Master's Project Title:

The Relationship between Parent Satisfaction with Child Care and Program Quality

MCH Student:

Ladia Albertson-Junkans

Date of Defense:

May 8, 2012


Background: Little is known about parents’ satisfaction with child care in the context of a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), an increasingly applied approach to measuring, communicating, and improving child care programs in the United States.

Research Purpose: A primary aim of QRIS is to support parents’ child care decision-making through communicating quality to help parents select high-quality care. Despite a central focus on parents, no QRIS evaluation has examined how parents’ satisfaction varies by program quality. An evaluation of Minnesota’s QRIS, Parent Aware, interviewed parents about their child care values and perceptions, but did not directly measure parent satisfaction with their current child care. Data from this parent interview were used to develop a proxy measure for parent satisfaction. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to examine differences in parent satisfaction with care by program quality level.

Results: No differences in parent satisfaction were found (F(3, 564) = 1.3, p = 0.2743); parent satisfaction levels were high across all four quality levels. There were considerable limitations to the data that may explain the non-significant findings; variation in program quality and parent perceptions of care within the sample was minimal. In addition, relying on a proxy measure for satisfaction is sub-optimal.

Conclusion: While this study offers a rudimentary and replicable approach to discerning parent satisfaction with child care in the absence of a direct measure, it also highlights the need for future evaluations and research to develop and include a direct measure of parent satisfaction.