Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

59P Toward Successful Partnership: Impact of a Public-Private Partnership and the Characteristics of Partnership On the Quality of Early Childcare and Education Teacher and Parent Perspectives

Friday, January 13, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Jung-Eun Kim, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Marjorie N. Edguer, MSSA, LISW-S, Doctoral Candidate, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Purpose: Human services have seen increasing use of collaborative programming between organizations. Early childhood programs are a focal point for collaboration because Head Start programs have sought out partners to provide childcare to support families who need child care beyond the part-time Head Start model. Perceived quality of early childhood programming is a major factor in parent decisions, it is important to understand whether parent perceptions of quality differ by program partnership. Teacher perceptions of quality will influence their job decisions, as well as community perceptions of program quality, affecting what a program is able to leverage within a community. Despite the clear need for effective collaboration between organizations, there is little empirical evidence to suggest if and/or how these relationships affect the quality of social service delivery, especially for service recipients. In our analysis, partnership status and characteristics will be 1) a significant predictor of parental rating of childcare center quality and satisfaction with services; and 2) a significant predictor of teacher rating of childcare center quality.

Method: Using data from the Partnership Impact Research Project 2001-04, collected from a stratified sample of randomly selected licensed child care centers in Ohio, center directors of 168 childcare centers (partnering centers (PC) working with Head Start = 86, and non-partnering centers (NC) = 82) completed the partnership survey (at least one survey time), and distributed surveys to teachers (PC=177, and NC=135) and parents (PC=756, and NC=719) at their centers. Partnership status and partnership characteristics (collaboration score and partnership formality) are used as predictors of parent and teacher ratings of quality of the center and services. Collaboration score is measured by one composite 5-point scale of seventeen items (e.g., well-defined and clarified roles and responsibilities) (α=.95); partnership formality is measured by a 5-point scale. Parent satisfaction with center services, and teacher and parent ratings of center quality, are measured by 4-point scales.

Results: As hypothesized, hierarchical multiple regression analyses, controlling for individual characteristics of parents (marital status, race, child age, education, and income) and teachers (education), and for organizational characteristics (organization size, and nonprofit or profit), showed that partnership formality predicted parents' satisfaction with center services (β=.07, p<.01), parents' rating of center quality (β=.07, p<.001), and teacher rating of center quality (β=.11, p<.01). In other words, more formalized partnership of childcare centers increases parents' satisfaction with center services and quality, as well as teachers' perceptions of center quality.

Implications: These findings support the importance of collaborative partnerships between early childhood programs as enhancing perceptions of quality for parents and teachers. Qualitative research would contribute to better understanding how parents and teachers think about the quality of childcare programs. The non-significance of collaboration scores suggests that needs assessment with service recipients would identify the steps for organizations to take in developing partnerships, to make sure there are no gaps between what the organizations are doing and what the service recipients need. This would contribute to more successful partnerships.