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Intimate Partner Violence, Child Care, and Children’s Behavioral Outcomes



Early exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with childhood internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems (IBP, EBP). This study investigates whether child care arrangement moderates associations between children’s IPV exposure and their subsequent IBP and EBP.


We used four waves of national, longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Well Being Survey (N = 3,108) to examine the moderating role of informal, formal home-based, and center-based child care on associations between children’s IPV exposure and behavioral outcomes. Ordinary least squares regression models with interaction terms and subgroup analyses using inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) were employed.


After adjusting for covariates, non-parental child care, compared with parental care, significantly moderated associations between children’s exposure to frequent, physical, and coercive IPV and later behavioral problems. Center-based care had the most extensive influence: the respective interactions between center-based care (vs. parental care) and frequent (β = -1.9 [95% CI: -2.9, -0.8]) and physical (β = -1.6 [95% CI: -2.8, -0.4]) IPV were significantly related to both IBP and EBP. Subgroup analyses indicated that frequent, physical, and coercive IPV were associated with both IBP and EBP for children in parental care; that low frequency, physical, and coercive IPV were associated only with increased EBP for children in home-based care; and that no measures of IPV were associated with IBP or EBP for children in center-based care.


Findings suggest that non-parental child care, particularly center-based care, may attenuate the negative influences of some forms of IPV on young children’s behavioral outcomes.

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This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as part of the Child Care Policy Research Scholar award (Grant #: 90YE0247), totaling $50,000 with 100 percent funded by ACF/HHS. The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACF/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit the ACF website, Administrative and National Policy Requirements.

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Nicholson, J.H., Ha, Y. Intimate Partner Violence, Child Care, and Children’s Behavioral Outcomes. J Fam Viol (2022).

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