Public Health Scotland was asked by the Scottish Government to review the available evidence about the effect of experiencing non-parental childcare below the age of 36 months on children’s cognitive, social, emotional and behavioural development. The report brings together international review level evidence, and studies carried out in the United Kingdom (UK). A systematic approach was used to identify papers.

The available evidence suggests that the relationship between the age at which children experience non-parental childcare, particularly formal childcare, and their short- and long-term development outcomes is likely to be complex. The most beneficial combination of age of entry to formal non-parental childcare and hours spent there may depend on the social circumstances that children live in. The variable effects observed are important to consider in planning any potential expansion of the current policy.


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Last updated: 12 December 2023