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Parental Decision Making about Technology and Quality in Child Care Programs

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Child & Youth Care Forum Volume 42, Number 5, ISSN 1053-1890


Background: This study investigated parental decision making about non-parental child care programs based on the technological and quality components of the program, both child-focused and parent-focused. Child-focused variables related to children's access to technology such as computers, educational television programming, and the internet. Parent-focused variables related to parental access to observe the program via the internet, and methods of communication by teachers, as well as traditional indicators of quality such as experience and education of the caregivers and type of curriculum offered. Objective: The study investigated which of these variables were most influential to parents' decision-making processes when choosing programs based on hypothetical scenarios. The study sought to examine which variables emerged as most important to parents, and whether these technological variables were more important than traditional indicators of quality, such as staff education level. Methods: A sample of 82 parents of children between the ages of 1 and 6 years (M = 3.6) completed a questionnaire gathering demographic information, as well as information about their perceptions of their children's media usage. The questionnaire also included hypothetical scenarios created using the SPSS ORTHOPLAN procedure to examine technology related variables (both child-focused and parent-focused) and traditional quality indicators that emerged as most influential to the decision-making process when choosing a child care program. Results: Using conjoint analysis, the results revealed that the child-focused technology variables that emerged as most influential to parents' decision making were educational software usage, television usage, and internet availability. In regard to parent-focused variables, conjoint analyses revealed that experience of the caregivers, type of curriculum offered, and education level of the caregivers were more influential to the decision making process than the ability to observe the program via the internet or method of communication used by the provider. Conclusions: The results provide additional support for the importance of well-trained and experienced staff in child care programs, as well as for a developmentally appropriate curriculum. These findings suggest that administrators interested in marketing early child care programs should continue to focus on these traditional indicators of quality, rather than on improving parental access to the program via technology.


Rose, K.K., Vittrup, B. & Leveridge, T. (2013). Parental Decision Making about Technology and Quality in Child Care Programs. Child & Youth Care Forum, 42(5), 475-488. Retrieved February 21, 2019 from .

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