Parent perspectives on childcare quality among a culturally diverse sample (free full-text available)

Lisa da Silva
Sarah Wise

The Australian Institute of Family Studies

Traditionally, childcare quality has been defined from a child development perspective. How quality is defined, however, depends on the stakeholder being considered. This paper examines childcare quality from a parent perspective. Information was obtained from 238 Australian parents from culturally diverse backgrounds with children using formal childcare services. The findings suggest that, while developmental features of child care were central to all parents' concepts of quality, the issues of accessibility, relationships with carers, and sensitivity to cultural background also ranked highly. Some cultural differences were found. Overall, parents perceived that their childcare arrangement matched the quality features they considered important. However, this differed according to parent culture, with Somali parents most likely and Vietnamese parents least likely to report that their childcare arrangement matched the quality features they considered important. The research, policy and practice implications are discussed.

Keywords: childcare quality, parents, culture

Introduction

A substantial body of research has demonstrated the critical influence of childcare quality on a range of developmental outcomes (see Ochiltree, 1994, and Vandell, 2004, for a review). Researchers typically assess childcare quality from a child development perspective, adopting indicators of health and safety and developmentally appropriate care in their measures (Farquhar, 1993). While researcher perspectives on childcare quality tend to dominate the literature, this focus is somewhat limited, as quality is a subjective construct (Ceglowski & Bacigalupa, 2002). Other stakeholders, such as staff and parents, may conceptualise quality differently, depending on their beliefs about child development and the objectives of child care.

Historically, childcare quality has been defined by standards for accreditation, state licensing and researchers' assessment of the developmental effects of child care. Therefore, definitions tend to interpret quality as what is ‘developmentally appropriate'. However, who defines quality and thus how it is defined (e.g. Moss & Pence, 1994) is currently under debate. Indeed, much of the relevant literature suggests that the definition of quality is uncertain (Farquhar, 1993; Wangmann, 1995). Childcare quality typically relates to subjective values and beliefs about children and their development (Farquhar, 1993; Friedman, Randolph, & Kochanoff, 2001; Moss, 1994; Pence & Moss, 1994), and, as such, is dependent on the stakeholder being considered (Moss, 1994). Measures of quality currently adopted by researchers reflect a developmental psychology perspective. Measures used in accreditation processes and research typically include structural characteristics such as carer-to-child ratios and carer education, because they are easy to assess (Farquhar, 1993). However, such definitions may not address aspects of child care that are viewed to be important by other significant stakeholders.

An appreciation of different perspectives will extend the definition of childcare quality (Farquhar, 1990b), which is important for the formulation of childcare policies and services that satisfy a range of stakeholder interests (Powell, 1997). The practice implications of adopting a broader perspective on quality are highlighted by Ceglowski and Bacigalupa (2002), who suggest ‘if parents who have recently immigrated from Somalia define quality child care in terms of providers that speak Somali and observe Muslim eating customs, then programs could be developed to fit the families' definitions of quality while also conforming to traditional definitions of quality' (p. 91).

The Child Care in Cultural Context (CCICC) study (Wise & Sanson, 2000) provides an opportunity to explore parent perspectives. The CCICC study involved parents from Anglo, Somali and Vietnamese cultural backgrounds whose children were using centre-based care or family day care in metropolitan Melbourne. The current paper explores perceptions of childcare quality among these three cultural groups.

Parents define quality in relation to the needs of their child and family (Emlen, Koren & Schultze, 1999), and focus on the childcare service overall (including features such as cost) in addition to the setting in which the child spends their time (Powell, 1997). It is therefore likely that parent perceptions of quality may differ from researcher perspectives (Larner & Phillips, 1994), and the available empirical evidence suggests that this is the case (e.g. Farquhar, 1993). Broadly, Ceglowski and Bacigalupa (2002) suggest that the most important aspects of child care for parents are health and safety, personal characteristics of the staff, parent–carer communication and flexibility of provision.

Although most parents rate all aspects of child care as important to some degree (e.g. Cryer & Burchinal, 1997; Cryer, Tietze & Wessels, 2002; Farquhar, 1993), when parents are asked to rate features of child care in order of importance they typically rank the emotional warmth of care as the most important (Browne Miller, 1990; Cryer & Burchinal, 1997; Farquhar, 1993). However, Sonestein (1991) found that, for a sample of mothers receiving welfare, emotional warmth was not as important as care that was available when children were sick, was clean and safe, reliable and dependable, affordable, and had adequate adult supervision.

A more recent study of parent perspectives, the Oregon Child Care Research Department study (Emlen et al., 1999), derived a measure of quality from a parent perspective. It contained scales reflecting emotional warmth, the physical environment, staff skills, communication, caregiver support, high-risk care (e.g. care that is not safe or healthy), safety and security, and the social environment. Parents in this study also stressed the importance of flexibility, suggesting that parents choose a childcare setting that matches their particular circumstances and needs.

Differences in perspectives among parents

Parents may view childcare quality differently according to their age, cultural background and socioeconomic status, as well as the age and gender of their children. This paper focuses on cultural background as a potential source of difference among parents.

Parenting beliefs, styles, and developmental expectations are known to differ by cultural background (Harkness & Super, 2002). The likelihood of cultural differences in parents' preferred childcare characteristics is therefore high. Farquhar (1993) examined Paheka (white) and non-Paheka parents in New Zealand and found that qualified staff and positive behaviour management were most important to Paheka parents, while non-Paheka parents placed more importance on biculturalism, non-sexist curriculum, outings and excursions, parental involvement in decision-making, and provisions for parents. Farquhar suggests, ‘these findings underscore the argument that how quality is defined is affected by cultural beliefs…' (1993, p. 138). By contrast, Cryer, Tietze and Wessels (2002) compared North American and German parents on their preferred childcare characteristics and found parents in both countries ranked each characteristic approximately the same.

Using data from the CCICC study, parent perspectives on childcare quality are examined in this paper. The specific research questions addressed here are:

  1. What are parents' preferred childcare characteristics and do these vary by cultural background?
  2. Do parents' arrangements match their preferred childcare characteristics and does the extent of ‘match' vary by cultural background?

Method

Participants

The CCICC study included information from 238 parents (230 mothers and eight fathers) of children who were aged from two to 69 months (M=27.6 months, SD=13.9). Of the 238 parents, 84 were identified as Anglo, 67 as Somali, and 66 as Vietnamese. An additional 21 parents were of other non-Anglo backgrounds. Given their small group size, these parents were not included in cultural comparisons. Data was collected by questionnaire. Vietnamese and Somali parents were able to complete the questionnaires in their own language, with the assistance of a Vietnamese or Somali research assistant if required. In terms of childcare use, 137 children were using centre-based care and 91 were using family day care. An additional 10 children were using informal care only (care by relatives or family friends). For a detailed description of the sampling strategy, readers are referred to Wise and Sanson (2000).

Measures

To assess parent perspectives on quality, a quantitative measure of 20 features of child care was specifically developed for the current study. The features fitted into one of four domains: (i) responsiveness to developmental needs (e.g. nurturing); (ii) accessibility (e.g. cost); (iii) carer relationships with the child and parents (e.g. parenting support); and (iv) responsiveness to the child's cultural background (e.g. use of child's language) (see Appendix). The ‘responsiveness to developmental needs' domain represented the dominant researcher perspective on childcare quality, while the ‘accessibility' and ‘carer relationships' domains reflected aspects of care found to be important for parents (e.g. Emlen et al., 1999). The final domain, ‘responsiveness to the child's cultural background', was thought to be particularly important given the culturally diverse nature of the participants in the CCICC study, which is thought to be one of only a few studies to examine the importance to parents of culturally specific aspects of care.

Parents were asked to respond to the items in two ways. First, they were asked to indicate how important each of the features was to them, using a three-point scale where 1 indicated not at all important, 2 indicated somewhat important, and 3 indicated very important. Second, parents were asked to indicate how well their current childcare arrangement satisfied each feature, also using a three-point scale where 1 indicated not at all well, 2 indicated somewhat well, and 3 indicated very well.

Data analysis

All data was entered into a spreadsheet and analyses were undertaken using SPSS 10 (Mac). For each quality item, the percentage of responses for each of the three options was calculated. Chi-square analysis was used to examine cultural differences in responses. For these analyses, response categories on the ‘how important' items were collapsed into a dichotomous variable, indicating not very important (ratings of 1 and 2) and very important (ratings of 3).

Results

Parents' preferred childcare characteristics

To demonstrate how important each of the childcare features was to parents, items were ranked, with a ranking of 1 indicating that, overall, this feature was of least importance and a ranking of 20 indicating that this feature was of most importance. These rankings are presented in Table 1 within quality domains, in order of highest to lowest ranked. The distribution of responses is also shown.

Table 1 indicates that all features of child care were at least somewhat important to most parents. Nurturing had the highest percentage of ‘very important' ratings, followed closely by safety and health. Availability of food from the child's culture had the lowest percentage of ‘very important' ratings.

Table 1. Rankings and distribution of responses for parental importance of childcare features (n=238)

Quality domain Ranka Very important % Somewhat important % Not at all important %
Responsiveness to developmental needs
Nurturing
Safety and health
Carer training and education
Stimulating toys and materials
Nutrition
Learning activities
Carer–child ratios
Stability of carers
20
19
17
16
15
14
10
6
89.5
88.2
84.8
82.3
81.9
80.2
71.3
60.3
1.7
3.4
6.8
8.9
5.9
10.1
14.3
28.3
0
0
0
0.4
2.5
0
5.5
3.0
Accessibility
Flexibility in hours
Location
Cost
18
13
12
86.5
76.4
74.7
4.6
13.9
16.5
0.4
0.8
0.4
Carer relationships with the child and parents
Carer knowledge of child and parents
Individual child-focused program
Understanding parents' ideas and practices
Parenting support
11
9
5
3
73.4
70.0
58.6
42.6
15.2
19.4
27.4
32.9
1.7
1.7
3.0
16.0
Responsiveness to the child's cultural background
Care similar to child's home environment
Knowledge of child's home environment
Use of child's language
Celebration of important festivals
Availability of food from child's culture
8
7
4
2
1
62.9
62.0
46.8
42.6
34.6
25.3
28.7
33.8
30.0
34.2
3.0
0.4
10.1
19.0
22.4

a 1=least important, 20=most important.
NB. Because of missing data, percentages do not always add up to 100.

Cultural differences in parents' preferred childcare characteristics

Chi-square analysis was used to determine whether the proportion of parents who rated aspects of child care as ‘very important' was independent of culture. The proportion of ‘very important' ratings are presented in Table 2.

Table 2. ‘Very important' responses for parental importance of childcare features by culture

Quality domain Very important responses (%)
Anglo (n=84) Vietnamese (n=66) Somali (n=67)
Responsiveness to developmental needs
Nurturing
Safety and health
Carer training and education
Stimulating toys and materials
Nutrition
Learning activities
Carer–child ratios
Stability of carers
100
100
92.9
84.5
83.3
84.5
71.4
70.2
98.5
97.0
86.4
90.9
92.4
95.5
80.3
50.0
94.0
91.0
98.5
95.5
94.0
83.6
83.6
76.1
Accessibility
Flexibility in hours
Location
Cost
89.3
71.4
75.0
95.5
90.9
84.8
100
91.0
86.6
Carer relationships with the child and parents
Carer knowledge of child and parents
Individual child-focused program
Understanding parents' ideas and practices
Parenting support
82.1
72.6
60.7
31.0
65.2
63.6
68.2
80.3
92.5
94.0
64.2
32.8
Responsiveness to the child's cultural background
Care similar to child's home environment
Knowledge of child's home environment
Use of child's language
Celebration of important festivals
Availability of food from child's culture
58.3
57.1
54.8
22.6
23.8
63.6
65.2
40.9
31.8
19.7
86.6
83.6
56.7
91.0
73.1

For the domain of ‘responsiveness to developmental needs', several item responses were not independent of culture, including carer training and education (x(2)=7.19, p<.05), stability of carers (x(2)=11.24, p<.01), learning activities (x(2)=6.31, p<.05), safety and health (x(2)=8.53, p<.05) and nutrition (x(2)=7.17, p<.05). Vietnamese parents were least likely to rate carer training and education and carer stability as very important, but were most likely to rate learning activities as very important. Somali parents were least likely to rate safety and health as very important, whereas Anglo parents were least likely to rate nutrition as very important.

Results also indicated that responses to ‘accessibility' items were not independent of culture. Anglo parents were least likely to rate location (x(2)=15.54, p<.001) and flexibility in hours (x(2)=8.37, p<.05) as very important, although the proportion of Anglo parents who rated these aspects as very important was nonetheless high (71.4% and 89.3%, respectively).

Cultural differences were also found in parents' responses to ‘carer relationships with the child and parents' items. While approximately 80 per cent of Vietnamese parents rated parenting support as very important, this only applied to about 30 per cent of Anglo and Somali parents respectively (x(2)=43.50, p<.001). Somali parents were most likely to rate individual child-focused program (x(2)=20.16, p<.001) and carer knowledge of child and parents (x(2)=21.58, p<.001) as very important, whereas Vietnamese parents were least likely to do so.

Responses to ‘responsiveness to the child's cultural background' items also varied by culture. Somali parents were considerably more likely than both Anglo and Vietnamese parents to rate knowledge of the child's home environment (x(2)=11.68, p<.01), celebration of important festivals (x(2)=78.41, p<.001), and the availability of food from the child's culture (x(2)=53.38, p<.001), as very important.

Match between parental importance and parent ratings

Parent ratings of their childcare arrangement

The proportion of all parents who rated aspects of their child's child care as being ‘very well met', ‘somewhat well met' and ‘not at all well met' are presented in Table 3. Within each quality domain, items are shown from highest to lowest rated. These statistics indicate that, for most features of care, the majority of parents rated their childcare arrangement as meeting that feature very well, and parents rarely rated a feature as being not at all well met.

Table 3. Distribution of responses for parental ratings of child care

Quality domain Very well met % Somewhat well met % Not at all well met %
Responsiveness to developmental needs
Safety and health
Carer training and education
Nurturing
Stimulating toys and materials
Nutrition
Learning activities
Carer–child ratios
Stability of carers
78.8
74.9
73.0
71.8
71.8
64.9
62.2
58.7
12.4
14.3
16.6
16.6
13.5
23.6
27.0
30.1
0
0.8
0.4
1.9
1.2
1.9
1.5
2.3
Accessibility
Flexibility in hours
Location
Cost
78.4
77.6
64.5
10.4
12.4
21.6
2.3
0.8
4.6
Carer relationships with the child and parents
Carer knowledge of child and parents
Individual child-focused program
Understanding parents' ideas and practices
Parenting support
64.5
59.1
50.2
44.4
23.6
28.6
34.4
34.0
2.3
2.7
5.4
12.0
Responsiveness to the child's cultural background
Use of child's language
Knowledge of child's home environment
Care similar to child's home environment
Celebration of important festivals
Availability of food from child's culture
61.8
58.3
54.4
51.4
51.4
18.5
30.9
32.8
32.0
30.9
10.0
0.8
2.7
6.6
7.3

NB. Because of missing data, percentages do not always add up to 100.

Match between importance and ratings

The analyses in this section were conducted to determine whether parents thought they were receiving care that fitted with what they thought to be important in a childcare setting. To determine whether there was a match between parents' ratings of the importance of each characteristic and how they rated their current childcare arrangement, discrepancy scores were created by subtracting parents' ratings of ‘how important' the feature was to them from their rating of ‘how well met' their child care satisfied the feature.

Discrepancy values ranging from 0 to 2 indicate the extent to which parents valued that aspect of child care was less than (or equal to) how well they felt that aspect of child care was actually met. Negative values indicated that the extent to which parents valued that aspect of child care was greater than how well they felt that aspect of child care was actually met.

A dichotomous variable was subsequently constructed from these data, indicating a ‘match' between how important and how well met (discrepancy values ≥ 0, indicating meeting or exceeding expectations) or a ‘non-match' between how important and how well met (negative discrepancy values, indicating expectations not met).

Table 4 shows the proportion of cases where importance values matched actual ratings for the total sample. For each domain, items are shown in order of highest to lowest per cent of match. These results suggest that the majority of parents were using a childcare arrangement that matched their ratings of importance (range: 77.3 to 94.8 per cent). Although crude, these results give us some indication of parent satisfaction, with the assumption that parents who perceive their childcare arrangement to match what is important to them are likely to be satisfied with their arrangement.

Table 4. Proportion of cases where importance and actual ratings match

Match (%)
Responsiveness to developmental needs
Safety and health
Carer education and training
Nutrition
Nurturing
Stability of carers
Stimulating toys and materials
Carer–child ratios
Learning activities
89.4
87.1
87.1
84.1
83.9
83.8
80.4
77.3
Accessibility
Location
Flexibility in hours
Cost
92.8
88.6
80.4
Carer relationships with the child and parents
Parenting support
Carer knowledge of child and parents
Individual child-focused program
Understanding parents' ideas and practices
83.8
83.6
81.6
79.0
Responsiveness to the child's cultural background
Availability of food from child's culture
Use of child's language
Celebration of important festivals
Knowledge of child's home environment
Care similar to child's home environment
94.8
91.8
89.3
86.7
85.0

Match according to cultural background

Chi-square analysis was used to examine whether the proportion of cases where importance and actual ratings matched was independent of culture. Results are shown in Table 5.

In respect of all eight of the ‘responsiveness to developmental needs' quality items, the proportion of matched responses was not independent of culture. Somali parents were most likely to report a match between importance and actual ratings, and Vietnamese parents were least likely (safety and health, x(2)=18.01, p<.001; carer education and training, x(2)=22.47, p<.001; nutrition, x(2)=13.26, p<.001; nurturing, x(2)=36.68, p<.001; stability of carers, x(2)=16.56, p<.001; stimulating toys and materials, x(2)=24.19, p<.001; carer–child ratios, x(2)=26.45, p<.001; and learning activities, x(2)=51.13, p<.001).

Somali parents were again most likely to report a match between importance and actual ratings in relation to accessibility. The greatest proportion of matched responses was found for Somali parents on both cost (x(2)=19.05, p<.001) and flexibility in hours (x(2)=7.58, p<.05) items.

Similarly, Somali parents were most likely to report a match on all carer relationships quality items, and Vietnamese parents were least likely to report a match (parenting support, x(2)=36.62, p<.001; carer knowledge of child and parents, x(2)=16.81, p<.001); child-focused program, x(2)=25.61, p<.001; and understanding parents' ideas and practices, x(2)=30.56, p<.001).

Finally, Somali parents were again most likely to report a match between importance and ratings for cultural responsiveness, although the rates of matched responses for Anglo parents were also high. Vietnamese parents were least likely to report a match on these items (use of child's language, x(2)=1.74, p<.01; celebration of important festivals, x(2)=8.07, p<.05; knowledge of the child's home environment, x(2)=37.22, p<.001; availability of food from child's culture, x(2)=6.82, p<.05; and care similar to child's home environment, x(2)=47.00, p<.001).

Table 5. Frequency of match between importance and actual ratings by culture

Quality domain Match
Anglo (n=84) % Vietnamese (n=66) % Somali (n=67) %
Responsiveness to developmental needs
Nurturing
Safety and health
Carer training and education
Stimulating toys and materials
Nutrition
Learning activities
Carer–child ratios
Stability of carers
92.9
92.9
89.3
88.0
87.2
83.3
81.0
77.4
62.5
76.9
70.3
64.6
77.0
46.9
65.6
81.5
96.9
98.5
98.4
95.4
98.4
98.4
100
100
Accessibility
Flexibility in hours
Location
Cost
83.3
91.7
72.6
90.8
87.7
73.8
97.0
98.5
98.5
Carer relationships with the child and parents
Carer knowledge of child and parents
Individual child-focused program
Understanding parents' ideas and practices
Parenting support
79.8
83.3
79.8
90.5
75.4
64.6
60.0
64.1
100
98.5
100
100
Responsiveness to the child's cultural background
Care similar to child's home environment
Knowledge of child's home environment
Use of child's language
Celebration of important festivals
Availability of food from child's culture
94.0
91.6
95.2
92.8
96.4
61.5
64.6
82.8
81.5
90.8
100
100
98.4
95.4
100

Discussion

The first aim of this paper was to explore parent perceptions of childcare quality. The findings indicated that, overall, all the features of child care examined were of at least some importance to parents in the current study. This is consistent with previous research (e.g. Cryer & Burchinal, 1997; Kontos, Howes, Shinn & Galinsky, 1995). Also consistent with previous literature was the finding that parents rated nurturing as the most important feature of child care (e.g. Browne Miller, 1990; Farquhar, 1993), with other aspects of care, including accessibility, considered of secondary importance (see Powell, 1997).

Analyses of parents' preferred childcare characteristics indicated that Anglo parents were slightly less likely than other parents in the sample to rate accessibility items as very important. The proportion of parents who rated cost as very important, however, was roughly the same across cultural groups. Vietnamese parents were far more likely than other parents in the sample to rate parenting support as very important, although Vietnamese parents were least likely to rate other aspects of carer relationships as very important. Somali parents were most likely to rate cultural responsiveness aspects as very important, whereas Vietnamese parents were far less likely to rate these items as very important. The relative length of time in Australia of these two cultural groups (Somalis being relatively new arrivals), and corresponding differences in attitudes to acculturation and the role of child care in promoting acculturation, may explain this finding.

Although it is unclear whether these attitudes extend to parents beyond the current sample, results suggest that the extent to which parents value different aspects of child care may vary by cultural background. Providers may therefore need to consider the possibility of cultural variations in parents' expectations of childcare services, which calls for good information exchange and cooperation between parents and carers. Importantly, differences between Somali and Vietnamese parents' attitudes towards the importance of cultural responsiveness in child care suggests there may be significant variation across ‘non-Anglo' cultural groups about the extent to which parents require childcare services to match the cultural setting of the home.

The second aim here was to determine whether the qualities of parents' childcare arrangements matched their preferred childcare characteristics. In general, parents rated their childcare arrangement highly and reported that it matched their preferred characteristics. This is consistent with much of the previous research (e.g. Browne Miller, 1990; Cryer & Burchinal, 1997; Cryer et al., 2002).

Cultural differences were found in rates of match, however. In general, Somali responses were most likely to match, whereas responses of Vietnamese parents were most likely to be discrepant, suggesting lower levels of satisfaction with their childcare arrangements. The fact that all Somali children attending family day care in the current sample were looked after by a family member or a member of the broader Somali community (n=45) might help explain the high-level of satisfaction among this cultural group. Previous analyses of the CCICC data (Hand & Wise, 2006) have shown a high level of cooperation between parents and carers of Somali children, and similarity in parenting values and behaviours between parents and carers as well, which could also explain Somali parents' satisfaction with their childcare arrangements.

The finding here that most parents reported their childcare arrangement to have the features they rated to be important is encouraging, although the fact that the qualities of childcare that Vietnamese parents rate as important were not always reflected in their choice of childcare arrangements suggests that carers may need to go out of their way to understand the expectations of parents from diverse cultural groups.

Conclusions and implications

Given that the current sample was not randomly selected, the findings cannot be generalised. However, the study does provide new information about parent perspectives on quality, and suggests that there may be variation among cultural groups on this issue. This paper has shown that, along with childcare characteristics deemed to be important from a research perspective, parents place importance on other aspects such as accessibility, relationships with carers and cultural responsiveness. This suggests the importance of reflecting parents' expectations in policy development and service improvement. Research is also needed to determine whether the additional domains of quality that parents consider important, such as carer relationships and cultural responsiveness, have developmental consequences.

It has been suggested that the current lack of consideration regarding parents' perceptions of childcare quality in policy and service development is because of the belief that parents do not recognise good-quality child care (Farquhar, personal communication, 1/12/04; Sonestein, 1991). However, parents here rated all aspects of child care as being very important to some degree, including aspects thought to reflect researcher definitions of quality. In choosing a childcare service, parents seek additional features to those defined by policies and researchers. Engaging with parents is therefore important for service delivery that meets parents' requirements.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Family Studies or the Australian Government.

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge and thank Associate Professor Ann Sanson, University of Melbourne, for her considerable input to the development of the study and for her ongoing support and counsel throughout. In addition, Kelly Hand, Lan Vuong and Farhia Mohumed made significant contributions to the field work components of the study. The authors also thank the study participants for their contribution to this research.

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Moss, P., & Pence, A. (Eds.) (1994). Valuing quality in early childhood services: New approaches to defining quality. London: Paul Chapman.

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Pence, A., & Moss, P. (1994). Towards an inclusionary approach in defining quality. In P. Moss & A. Pence (Eds.), Valuing quality in early childhood services: New approaches to defining quality (pp. 172-180). London: Paul Chapman.

Powell, D. R. (1997). Parents' contributions to the quality of child care arrangements. In S. Reifel (Series Ed.), C. J. Dunst & M. Wolfery (Volume Eds.), Advances in early education and day care: Family policy and practice in early child care (pp. 133-155). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Sonestein, F. L. (1991). The child care preferences of parents with young children: How little is known. In J. S. Hyde & M. J. Essex (Eds.), Parental leave and child care: Setting a research and policy agenda (pp. 337-353). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

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Wise, S., & Sanson, A. (2000). Child care in cultural context: Issues for new research. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Appendix

Responsiveness to developmental needs

  • There are a large number of carers for the number of children (carer–child ratios)
  • The carers are well-trained and qualified (carer training and education)
  • The care is warm and sensitive (nurturing)
  • The child is cared for by the same person each day (carer stability)
  • The program has activities to help children learn new things (learning activities)
  • The childcare setting is a safe and healthy place for the child (safety and health)
  • Children are provided with good-quality food (nutrition)
  • There are plenty of stimulating toys and materials for the child (stimulating toys and materials)

Location, cost and flexibility of care

  • The cost of care is affordable (cost)
  • The child care is conveniently located (location)
  • Care is available during hours it is needed (flexibility in hours)

Carer relationships with the child and parents

  • Carers provide support and advice to parents to help them with child-rearing (parenting support)
  • Carers take time to understand parents' ideas and practices about bringing up children (understanding parents' ideas and practices)
  • Carers will adapt the program to fit particular children's needs (individual child-focused program)
  • Carers know the child and his/her parents well (carer knowledge of child and parents)

Responsiveness to the child's cultural background

  • Carers talk to the child in his/her own language (use of child's language)
  • Carers are sensitive to differences between home and child care in ways of bringing up children (knowledge of child's home environment)
  • Important festivals and holidays from the child's culture are celebrated (celebration of important festivals)
  • The child is given food s/he is used to at home (availability of food from child's culture)
  • The child is treated much the same way as at home (care similar to child's home environment)

AJEC Volume 31 No 3 September 2006, pp. 6-14.

You can purchase this issue of the Australian Journal of Early Childhood now.


Last updated: (April 1, 2014 at 2:41 pm)

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