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ERIC Number: ED517547
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 44
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 97
Conceptual Frameworks for Child Care Decision-Making. White Paper
Chaudry, Ajay; Henly, Julia; Meyers, Marcia
Administration for Children & Families
This working paper is one in a series of projects initiated by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to improve knowledge for child care researchers and policy makers about parental child care decision making. In this paper, the authors identify three distinct conceptual frameworks for understanding child care decisions--a rational consumer choice framework, a heuristics and biases framework, and a social network framework--and review the major assumptions, contributions, and possible limitations of each of these frameworks. They then discuss an integrated conceptual model, the accommodation model that draws from each of these frameworks. The first three frameworks come primarily from the fields of economics, psychology, and sociology, respectively. It is the authors' sense that most research about child care decision making has been informed by the theories, assumptions, and empirical methods of one or more of these frameworks, either explicitly or implicitly, and they provide some examples and elaborate the basic tenets of each framework. The integrative accommodation model was first presented by Marcia Meyers and Lucy Jordan (2006). They develop and elaborate this model more fully here with explicit attention to its relation to the rational consumer choice framework, the heuristics and biases framework, and the social network frameworks. These frameworks are presented as complementary, rather than mutually exclusive. For a process as complex as parental child care decisions, each can provide a different and useful lens through which to understand unique aspects of the factors, processes and outcomes of parental child care decisions. When considered together, they believe they may inform one another and the development of more integrative models, such as the accommodation model presented here. It is the authors' hope that researchers working primarily within one of the conceptual frameworks discussed here will benefit from learning about other frameworks. In some cases, this may simply suggest additional or new variables to consider when specifying a particular model, while still working from the same conceptual framework. In other cases, it may result in integrative approaches that address multiple dimensions of the decision making process--dimensions that may not be as obvious when working within a single framework. In the concluding section the authors discuss some of the issues and the implications for future research. A goal of this paper is to advance knowledge that can inform public policy efforts. Given that the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) has an explicit goal of supporting parental choice for child care, it is critical that they expand and deepen everyone's knowledge about the processes through which parents make decisions and the consequences for the choices they make (Zaslow, Halle, Guzman, Lavelle, Keith, Berry, & Dent, 2006). The different perspectives offered by each of the three frameworks and the integrative accommodation model may help policy makers identify the policy and program levers that can prove important at different stages of the decision making process. (Contains 7 footnotes.)
Administration for Children & Families. US Department of Health and Human Services, 370 L'Enfant Promenade SW, Washington, DC 20447. Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Administration for Children and Families (DHHS), Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation; Child Trends