nl en

Professional Child Care


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




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.


Achievement levels: 1.1, 1.3 t/m 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4 t/m 2.11, 3.1 t/m 3.4.




Lectures with assignments.


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


During this course Blackboard will be used.


  • Clarke-Stewart, A. & Allhusen, V.D. (2005). What we know about childcare. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • NICHD Early Child Care research Network (Ed.) (2005). Child care and child development: Results from the NICHD study of early child care and youth development. New York: Guilford Press.

  • Electronic syllabus with papers (via Blackboard).


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.
Please note that separate uSis registration is mandatory for lectures, seminars, exam and re-exam.

  • Registration for the lectures of the course is possible as of two months through one week before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the seminars of the course is possible as of two months through one week before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the exam is possible as of two months through one week before the exam at the latest;

  • Registration for the re-exam is possible as of two months through one week before the re-exam at the latest.
    Students who don’t register cannot attend classes or take the (re)exam.


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