Stay at home parents are often categorized as moms and dads who are home to raise their young babies and toddlers during their early formative years. But a new study highlights the fact that older children also continue to reap benefits from having a stay at home parent. In 1998, Norway began a program called Cash for Care, offering a substantial cash payment for parents with children under the age of three to stay at home in lieu of using the publicly subsidized daycare system. A recent study, in conjunction with a Stanford professor and two Norwegian scholars, examined the effect of this program, not on the children under age three who were targeted to benefit from Cash for Care, but rather on their older siblings. By looking at the 10th grade GPAs for these siblings, the researchers determined that older children were also directly benefiting from the additional time with their parents, even if this was an unintended consequence of the program. These older siblings had a small, but statistically significant increase in GPA. Interestingly, only a minor percentage (5%) of the families who took advantage of Cash for Care actually changed their work situations, indicating that such a positive impact could be multiplied if more parents were able to truly stay home with their children (and not have to work as well as care for their children at the same time). While the researchers cautioned that differences (and therefore, potential impacts) exist between the Norwegian and U.S. educational and childcare systems, they also note that parental presence could be a key indicator for a child’s success long past the beginning years of childhood.
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