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Childcare Director Leadership: A Crucial Connection to Quality Care and Education

Popovich, Cynthia (2016) Childcare Director Leadership: A Crucial Connection to Quality Care and Education. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The purpose of this study was to explore and describe child care center directors’ perceptions of their role as leaders. Survey and semi-structured interview questions were used to collect data on how child care directors describe themselves as leaders, how they are prepared and supported for leadership development, and to recognize barriers to leadership development.

A survey was distributed in to 36 directors and the return rate was 23 surveys. Descriptive statistics are used to display the data. A focus group of seven directors were interviewed for 30 minutes using semi-structured interview questions. Data from this session was audio recorded, transcribed, and presented in narrative form.
Directors perceive themselves to be both managers and leaders and are very relationship-based while managing their staff. Despite indicating that they have high job stress, low salaries, work long hours, and often feel isolated in their position, they agree (78%, n=18) that they do not want to leave their job and (69%, n=16) are not disillusioned with the field. Directors agree that they like dealing with broader issues in the field (87%, n=20), and (82%, n=19) that they need to become involved in the wider early childhood community, but only (30%, n=7) held any leadership positions in professional associations or groups outside of their centers. A definition of leadership collectively written by 23 directors is offered for further consideration. More than half of the directors agreed that they felt confident and self-assured when they became a director (61%, n=14), and they felt prepared for the kinds of issues that they faced (57%, n=13). Approximately 2/3 of the directors (65%, n=15) indicated that they had little leadership or administrative training before becoming a director.

Directors are leaders in their centers, but not in the wider field. Early childhood training systems must respond to and provide opportunities for director leadership both in centers and in the wider early childhood community of practice where system-wide changes are needed. The voices of directors need to be included in order for any solutions to the problems in the field of early childhood care and education are to be resolved.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Popovich, Cynthiacjpop@pitt.eduCJPOP
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTananis, Cynthiatananis@pitt.eduTANANIS
Committee MemberCrawford, Patriciapcrawfor@pitt.eduPCRAWFOR
Committee MemberTrovato, Charlenetrovato@pitt.eduTROVATO
Committee MemberVander Ven, Karenkvander@pitt.eduKVANDER
Date: 1 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 February 2016
Approval Date: 1 June 2016
Submission Date: 22 May 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 207
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: child care, directors, leadership
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2016 20:01
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:33


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