, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 281–299 | Cite as

How neuroendocrinology can contribute to early childhood education and care: Cortisol as a supplementary indicator of quality

  • Amedeo D’AngiulliEmail author
  • Kylie Schibli
Open File


How to measure quality of early childhood education and care is an evergreen topic of research and discussion in various disciplines. Here, we propose a contribution from developmental neuroscience and neuroendocrinology. In this secondary data analysis study, we tested the hypothesis that salivary cortisol can serve as a reliable objective indicator of early childhood education quality. As measured by the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R), our analysis confirmed early childhood education and care differences between the two communities in our study. Also, ratifying previous studies in the literature, our results showed that, as daycare quality increased, cortisol levels decreased in children and early childhood educators in both communities. Regardless of the community, the quality difference was slight to moderate, yet it was reflected by a significant difference in aggregate cortisol levels—indicating that the sensitivity of the latter measure could serve as a very useful and convenient population-level indicator of childcare quality and early learning from early infancy to school age.


Early childhood education Childcare quality Stress Cortisol Early childhood educators 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuroscience of Imagination, Cognition, and Emotion Research (NICER) LabCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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