Family structure change can disrupt the settings of children’s daily lives. Most scholarship focuses on disruption in the home environment. Moving beyond the home, this study explores the association between changes in family structure and changes in several dimensions of early child care. With longitudinal data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (n = 1,298), first-difference models reveal that family structure transitions are associated with changes in the type and quantity of early care as well as the number of care arrangements used, especially during the latter part of infancy. Given prior evidence linking these child care dimensions to behavioral and cognitive outcomes, these results suggest a policy-relevant mechanism by which family change may create inequalities among children.

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