Date of Award:

1998

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Ann M. Berghout Austin

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify the individual, familial, and child-care characteristics related to children's perceptions of their nonparental child-care environments. One-hundred seventy-five children, their families, and child-care providers participated in this study. Children attended one of three forms of child care: large center-based child-care settings, home-based child-care settings, and a preschool. Correlates of children's perceptions of their child-care experiences came from variables classified into six categories: individual child characteristics, family structure, family processes, previous child-care experiences, child-care structure, and child-care processes.

Children's perceptions were elicited through the Child Care Game Assessment (CCGA), a role-playing game-like experience for 4- and 5-year-old-children. The CCGA's 59 items were divided into four subscales: discipline, negative provider behaviors, the quality of time spent at child care, and the suitability of the setting.

Theoretically, interactions between children and their care providers (including parents and nonparental care providers) la id the foundation for children's developing personal premise system, or what they believe others think of them and what they expect from others. The CCGA, while not a direct measure of the personal premise system, was a valuable resource in defining what children need to develop a confident personal premise system. It accomplished this by defining the variables that have the most influence on their child-care perceptions.

Results indicated that children attending the different forms of child care did not differ in their perceptions of child care, nor did their previous child-care experiences make a difference. Individual characteristics, family structure, family processes, childcare structure, and child-care processes did correlate with children's perceptions.

Variables measuring aspects of the child-care settings accounted for more variance in children's perceptions than variables classified in the family categories. The child-care variables also provided evidence that children's personal premise system is influenced by the child-care setting and provider.

The theoretical implications of the results are discussed and a rationale for the significant and nonsignificant results is proposed. Implications of the study for childcare providers, parents, researchers, and policy makers are also discussed.

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