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Nagera, H. (1975). Day-Care Centres: Red Light, Green Light or Amber Light. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 2:121-136.

(1975). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 2:121-136

Day-Care Centres: Red Light, Green Light or Amber Light

Humberto Nagera

The possible impact of poorly conceived day-care centres on the intellectual, emotional and psychological development of children is of such proportions, on the negative sense, that an examination of some of the factors involved becomes imperative.

Obviously, the nature of the impact will be different according to a number of variables, such as the 'quality' of the 'care' provided in in any such given institution, the amount of time that the child remains in the day-care setting every day, the type of relationship between the child or infant and his parents both generally, and more especially the amount of interaction between mother and child during the number of hours left (of his waking life) after he comes back from the day-care centre to his home every day, and, most important, the age of the child.

In my view, the greatest potential danger concerns infants ranging in age from a few days or weeks to one and a half years of age. The second most endangered group (but less fundamentally so than the earlier age range) is those children between one and a half and two and a half or three years of age. The type of damage that can accrue to children outside these groups is so significantly reduced that we will not discuss here the problems involved for them (though there are some).

If we consider first the dangers involved in this practice to children in the age group of up to one and a half years of age, we have to examine at least three distinct sets of variables. Each of them plays a fundamental role in the healthy development of the infant (healthy implying here not only physical health but also good intellectual, emotional and psychological development).

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