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Investigators argue that it is essential to consider why parents select non-parental child care arrangements in studying the effects of that care on a child’s development. Existing investigations explore family economic and demographic characteristics as determinants of child care choice. The present investigation examined a wide array of parents’ beliefs about characteristics of child care arrangements with the goal of determining if these could be reduced to coherent dimensions. The emergent belief sets were examined in relation to maternal and child characteristics as potential correlates. Two hundred and twenty respondents with children in non-parental care completed surveys. These individuals represent diverse ethnic and economic groups. Ratings of the importance of characteristics were factor analyzed resulting in a six factor solution: Practical Concerns, Institutional Structure, Curriculum, Scheduling, Child Centered Orientation and School Readiness. The latter factor, or program components promoting social skills and classroom behaviors associated with succeeding in school, was identified as the most important dimension. Parents describing their children as more difficult temperamentally and as less developmentally advanced tended to describe school readiness and curriculum issues as less important. Child characteristics accounted for unique variance above and beyond mothers’ characteristics in predicting to parental beliefs. Results suggest that parents as consumers possess coherent belief sets and are sensitive to children’s developmental needs in evaluating care arrangements.
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- Parental Perceptions of Characteristics of Non-Parental Child Care: Belief Dimensions, Family and Child Correlates
Wendy C. Gamble
Allison R. Ewing
Mari S. Wilhlem
- Springer US