Taiwanese parents' perceptions of child care quality and decision making selection processes
The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate Taiwanese parents' considerations regarding preschool selection and decision-making processes, the importance of quality, and satisfaction with preschools based on participants' demographic characteristics, child's age, and types of schools. In addition, the study also examined parents' perceptions on quality and satisfaction with preschool programs in terms of structural and process indicators.
The instrument used in this study was developed by the researcher and modified from the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R; Harms, Clifford, & Cryer, 1998). The instrument used a 5-point Likert Scale to identify parental considerations on Convenience, Cost, Program Standards, Curriculum, Teacher Qualifications and Training, and Parent-Teacher Interactions. Parental perceptions of quality and satisfaction with child care programs were identified on Program Characteristics, Teacher Characteristics, Interactions, Curriculum, Safety and Health, Physical Environment, and Evaluation.
Data were collected from 810 participants with at least one three- to five-year-old child enrolled in one of 20 preschools. The preschools included four public and 16 private programs located in three regions in Taiwan.
Results indicated that parents rated Teacher Qualifications and Training as important considerations when selecting preschools. Parental selections differed based on parents' demographics and child's age. Mothers with full-time employment were concerned about Convenience category, whereas parents with lower household incomes considered Cost and Curriculum as more important categories. Parents with three-year-old children reported Program Standards and Parent-Teacher Interactions as critical considerations.
Parents placed a higher emphasis on teachers' qualifications in their selection processes; however, health and safety issues tended to be more important in determining parental ratings for quality and satisfaction when children were enrolled preschool programs. Overall, parents rated higher mean scores on satisfaction with children's preschools, and parental satisfactions differed based on their demographics and the child's age. Parents' suggestions for improvements of the programs were provided.
The findings have implications for parents, practitioners, and policy makers. For example, parents' education; subsidies were provided to lower-income families for extending their preschool selections; improving teacher qualifications and training for pre-service and in-service teachers; and effective communication for teacher-parent interactions. Recommendations for future research were addressed.