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.