Improving Center-Based Child Care in Panama: Baseline Results
The quality of center-based child care, which depends upon the type of environment and the types of interactions between caregivers and children, is thought to be of critical importance for improving child development outcomes. This report describes the study design, the empirical strategy, and the baseline results for a randomized control trial which upgraded public child care centers in Panama. Data were collected on child care centers and on eligible children and families that lived near the centers. The data describe the child care habits of the study population in great detail, and show very low use of formal child care and an important participation of parents and non-parental relatives in child care. The study also measures how often mothers multitask, ie take care of their children while simultaneously doing household work. The treatment and control populations are well balanced across a variety of characteristics, as is expected in a randomized experiment. The results in this report highlight the need for investments in cost-effective interventions to improve the quality of public daycare centers in Panama.