Formal child care has been associated with myriad benefits for children, such as improvements in cognitive development and language skills. Immigrant children may derive unique benefits from formal child care, as research has also confirmed that center-based child care is associated with gains in English language proficiency and school readiness. However, immigrant families are less likely than nonimmigrant families to enroll their children in formal child care. Considering the growing immigrant population in the US—a large proportion of which is Latino—more research is needed to understand the child care decision-making processes of immigrant Latino families. The current study examined the previously understudied social and internal factors that may influence the child care preferences and arrangements of immigrant and nonimmigrant Latina women.

The study sample comprised 278 Latina women living in the US. Of these participants, 43% were born in the US and 57% were born outside of the US; 32% were currently pregnant and 68% were parenting at least one child. Participants were recruited from Offerwise’s Hispanic Panel to complete an online survey covering questions related to demographic characteristics, child care preferences and arrangements, social support, perceived quality of child care types, acculturation, and beliefs about maternal employment.

Results demonstrated that immigrant and nonimmigrant Latina participants differed significantly in their beliefs about maternal employment, perceptions of relative child care quality, and levels of acculturation. Multiple regression models of social and internal factors (e.g., social support and importance of trust in a caregiver) predicted relative and center-based child care preference and utilization, although few individual factors significantly predicted these outcomes.

Findings indicate that the child care decision-making process cannot be assumed to be homogenous across Latina immigrant and nonimmigrant women, and that this decision-making process is influenced by social and internal factors. Future research should incorporate concrete, social, and internal factors in models predicting child care preferences and arrangements.

Key Take Away Points

  • Immigrant and nonimmigrant Latina participants differed significantly in their beliefs about maternal employment, perceptions of relative child care quality, and levels of acculturation.
  • Social and internal factors, such as social support and importance of trust in a caregiver, predicted relative and center-based child care preference and utilization.

Author Biography

Laura Satkowski is a Research Analyst at Metis Associates, a research and evaluation consulting firm based in New York City. Dr. Satkowski earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Westfield State University, where she studied the role of self-worth contingencies in late adolescence. She went on to complete her Master of Arts and Doctoral degrees in Applied Developmental Psychology with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Culture from Fordham University. Her current research interests center on cross-cultural differences in child development and parenting. Rumeli Banik is the Program Officer for the Child Well-being Program at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Dr. Banik earned a doctorate in Applied Developmental Psychology from Fordham University, and a Master of Arts in Child Development and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Child Development and Biomedical Engineering from Tufts University. She is a co-principal investigator studying the role of Latina mothers’ parenting experiences on early childhood development at Fordham University. Her prior research examined differences in the experiences of the transition to parenthood in first-time mothers from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds. She has also developed a workshop about parenting skills and child development for caregivers of young children at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Earlier in her career, she developed and implemented evidence-based parenting program content for families of children birth to age five as a community-based child development specialist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Sonia Roubeni is a doctoral candidate and teaching associate in Applied Developmental Psychology at Fordham University, and serves as the Director of Research and Evaluation at Community of Unity—a non-profit that supports the academic and social development of New York inner-city youth. Her program of research centers on family sociocultural processes in the school readiness and academic achievement of immigrant children. Past studies include multimethod examinations of immigrant parents’ educational aspirations for their children, immigrant parents’ migration narratives and their perceptions of the U.S. education system, as well as the ways in which socioeconomically and ethnically diverse parents’ educational beliefs, aspirations, and constraints impact children’s early learning contexts. Her dissertation examines contributions of region of origin, the home learning environment, and parental preacademic stimulation on the school readiness of Head Start children from immigrant families using data from the FACES 2009 cohort. Sonia hails from Hamburg, Germany.


This project was supported by the Reicken Fellowship Dissertation Expense grant from the Foundation for Child Development and the Summer Research Fellowship from Fordham University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Foundation for Child Development or Fordham University.