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Factors in early termination of family day care service Bjerring, Barbara Frances

Abstract

There is an increasing need for day care services for children in most major urban centres on this continent due to marked changes in the patterns of family life, especially the tendency for women to be gainfully employed after marriage. For children under three years of age, family day care is generally considered to be the preferable type of care outside the home. There is an awareness of the need for this type of care in Vancouver, and also an awareness of the limited facilities available. The Department of Day Care Services of The Family Service Centre, in Vancouver, is an agency, which offers both group day care and family day care service. Because there are some parents who make frequent changes in family day care arrangements for their children, and because agency policy prefers that the duration of agency care be at least one year, agency, staff members feel concern about the use being made of family day care services. Also, since the literature based on psychiatric research suggests that frequent changes of substitute mothers is potentially damaging to children, the social workers at the agency are anxious to know whether there are causal factors in the terminations which could be eliminated. The study has been designed as an experience survey, which makes use of a control group defined operationally as stable, and two groups representing short term care and multiple placements. It was expected that there would be identifiable differences between these groups, some of which might prove to be significant. The study has three main objectives. The first objective is to discover the extent of the problem. The second objective is to identify, if possible, the factors involved in early termination of service and frequent replacements. The third objective is to design an instrument which would be of value in future research. In other words, although this was to be at first an experience survey, it also became a pre- evaluative study. Data have been collected from family day care case files and from information supplied by agency staff members. An instrument has been designed for the collection of data from the files. Our findings indicate that a number of factors appear in the family day care cases in various combinations but, of these, only two have proved to be significant. The families in the stable group are significantly more concerned about the quality of care their children receive. Also, in the stable group, there is a significantly higher frequency of adequate communication between the day care mothers and the natural mothers. Our experience with this study has allowed us to conclude tentatively, that early closing or replacement of children is generally due to factors beyond the control of the agency. It is possible, however, that methods could be developed by the agency to encourage better communication between the natural mother and the family day care mother. More research on parental motivation for using day care is indicated.

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