Main Researcher: Marigen Narea (Psychology UC)

The line of research “Quality early childhood care for all: Building the foundations of a fairer society” focuses on the study of types of child care and their quality. The main objective of this research is to understand where, who and when to care for children under four years of age and analyze how the needs, beliefs and expectations of families influence this decision. The aim is to contribute to the theory of the intersection between child development, social environments and formal and informal education in early childhood, considering the migratory status and socioeconomic status of children and their families. This is achieved by starting with with three conceptual assumptions: i) that the social, emotional and cognitive skills of children under three years of age lay the foundations for their development and future learning (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000; Shonkoff, 2010, Thompson, 2001, 2016); ii) that the development of children takes place in multiple social environments, mainly in the family and the educational system (Bronfenbrenner, 1994, Lareau, 2011); and iii) that different cultural communities have unique beliefs and practices that permeate the experiences of children and can influence the optimal way to educate children under three years of age (Rogoff, 2003).

The Chilean context is relevant because increased investment in early childhood policies has not translated into a broader coverage, evenly distributed among age groups, territorial location and socioeconomic levels (CASEN, 2013). There is little evidence to explain why many Chilean families do not use child care services for their children. However, it is known that in these cases the care of the mother or informal services (whether by family or non-family) are preferred. In addition, it is known that these decisions are mainly for cultural reasons, such as the preference for the home or the low perceived utility of these services; these trends are exacerbated at the lowest socioeconomic level (CASEN, 2011). Additionally, there is little evidence regarding forms of care for children of immigrant families (Benavides and Galaz, 2013).

Faced with this evidence, it is important to understand the care histories of children under four years of age, the alternative care models that some families choose, and the cultural and social factors associated with these stories. Therefore, this line will pay particular attention to the longitudinal study of the migrant population and households living in poverty and vulnerability. Considering that differences in development between the poorest and richest children arise after 18 months of age (Schady et al., 2014), high quality early childhood care is essential to achieve a more fair and equitable society. This line seeks to contribute with knowledge for the development of public policies of early childhood, helping children to enter the education system in equal conditions.

Our research team is composed of:


Main Researcher

Marigen Narea  ->  See profile


Associate Researchers

Anita Díaz  -> See profile
Amanda Telias  -> See profile


Associate Researchers

Verónica Arriagada
Kasim Allel

International Collaborations

Hirozaku Yoshikawa – New York University (USA)
Jane Waldfogel – Columbia University/LSE (USA and United Kingdom)



Three studies with mixed research methods, including longitudinal surveys with statistical analysis, systematic review and qualitative techniques (observations and interviews):

  1. i) “Child care stories of children under 3 in Chile: Where, who and when?”;
  2. ii) “The cultural dispositions and practices of Chilean families when choosing the type of care for their children and its association with child development”;
  3. iii) “Alternative care programs and models in the first three years of life: The role of the State in the informal care of children”.