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Professional Child Care


NB Language of instruction will be Dutch unless English-speaking students participate

Admission requirements



The number of mothers who return to the workforce after childbirth has been growing rapidly. Thus, out-of-home child care has become an important environment in which young children’s development is shaped. How do these environments affect children? Are children better or worse off when they are in child care rather than exclusively at home with their parents?
This course examines the impact of different types of child care environments (e.g., center child care, home-based child care) on children’s social-emotional and cognitive development. The focus is on attachment relationships between children and their professional caregivers and parents. Based on Bowlby’s theory of attachment, researchers in the 1960s had reasons to be concerned about the possibility that daily separations from the mother would be associated with less opportunity for the child and mother to form close and warm relationships. Have empirical studies since then demonstrated that these concerns were justified? And how does child care affect other aspects of children’s development, i.e. their social behavior, cognitive development, and health? This course will give an overview of more than 30 years of international research in child care, answering these and related questions.
Special emphasis is on the quality of child care, with ample attention to the measurement of various indicators of quality. Child care quality in the Netherlands will be discussed and put in an international perspective. A major focus will be on results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, the most comprehensive scientific study to date of early child care and its relation to child development.
Moreover, we will discuss recent advances in child care research, including studies of physiological markers of stress (cortisol), children’s immune system (secretory IgA), differential susceptibility to child care, and interventions to improve quality of care.

Course objectives

Time Table

Time table will be announced in July 2017.

Mode of instruction

Lectures with assignments.

Assessment method

Written exam and paper (final grade: exam 75%; paper 25%).


During this course Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

To be announced.



Students need to register for lectures and work group sessions in uSis. It is not possible to take a course without a valid registration. Please consult the course registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.


Students are not automatically registered for exams. They can register themselves in uSis until 10 calendar days before the exam date at the latest. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the exam. More information can be found on the exam registration website.

Contact information

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.


Dr. H.J. Vermeer (co-ordinator), via e-mail.