Given the complexity and range of choice of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, as well as the diversity of family situations, research eliciting parent conceptions of their choices of early childhood services is both necessary and timely. This paper brings to light some important issues in relation to knowledge and understanding of parent choice regarding early childhood services. It synthesises findings from an initial study that aimed to investigate the ways parents make their choices of early childhood services and examines and interprets the meanings they ascribe to those choices (see Noble, 2005).
An awareness of the variation that exists in the way parents conceptualise early childhood services and make choices for young children should necessarily inform and be reflected in future policy reforms. This paper presents a model, based on findings from the aforementioned study, which usefully illustrates the dilemmas of parents in conceptualising and choosing services for their children and explores the implications of their individual decisions in aggregate. Therefore an exploration of the relationship between parental experiences of ECEC services and the influence of this on their choices ensues. By utilising the process of integrative synthesis, applied to the findings from the previous mixed modal study (see Noble, 2005, 2006a, 2006b), the author demonstrates the complexities of choice juxtaposed with parent experiences of these services.
Australian Journal of Early Childhood Volume 32 No 1 March 2007, pp. 24-29.