Academic journal article Education

Ethnic Composition of the Clientele and the Managerial Challenges of Private Urban Child Care Centers: Some Strategic Implications

Academic journal article Education

Ethnic Composition of the Clientele and the Managerial Challenges of Private Urban Child Care Centers: Some Strategic Implications

Article excerpt

Introduction

One of the challenges of the working mothers has been to locate an affordable childcare, especially among the low-income families. In fact, the economic burden on young dual income families has been quite substantial. A few studies (such as Hertz, 1997) referred, Day Care as the second largest cost after mortgage or rent. Poor families with incomes below the poverty level spent as much as 25 percent of their income on childcare, compared to only 7 percent spent by non-poor families (Hofferth, 1996; Casper, 1995). Since the distribution of wealth in America is heavily biased against race and ethnicity, the affordability of childcare by ethnic minorities also remains an economic challenge. To bear the pressure of increasing market demand, non legal (also illegal), often of poor quality day care services are routinely propping up in the relatively less affluent neighborhoods of the large cities dominated by African American, Hispanic and other newly immigrant families. In fact, there probably are very few services in the market that are more dominated by ethnic preferences of the clientele than that of the childcare services. The preponderance of ethnic preference in the child rearing practices implies that ethnicity is likely to play a significant role in the operation, survival, and profitability of the center.

While ethnic preferences are noticeable from the habitual consumption pattern of the individuals, especially with regard to food, and grocery purchases, the ethnic preferences with regard to childrearing practices stem from more serious and pragmatic orientations linked first with the educational, and life aspiration of the parents for their children and, second, with the socio-cultural factors. This study of ethnic preferences of the clientele therefore is premised on the following theoretical bases: First, an ethnic explanation to educational performance differentials commonly attributed to economic, cultural and other factors; Second, the reality of cultural socialization leading to ethnic preferences.

Ethnicity Based Studies of Child Educational Performance Differential

A rich body of information is available from the studies on school achievements that commonly used cross--race (White and Black or Hispanic) comparisons. The poor academic performance of minority children has been documented, with cognitive and linguistic deficits, lack of motivation, low self-esteem, and difficulty in delaying gratification posited as possible explanations for school failure (Holliday, 1985). The deficiencies in academic performance have often been explained in the literature in terms of economic and social problems of family life, such as, disorganization, impoverishment, and for African-American families, mother-domination. But the model of "family as perpetrator" is limited as it fails to take into account the complex and often interrelated reasons or causes for low achievement. It also fails to offer a comprehensive perspective on achievement socialization (Scott-Jones, 1987; Slaughter, 1988; Slaughter & Epps, 1987; Stevenson, Chen, Uttal, 1990). Peisner-Feinberg and colleagues (2001) reviewed the children's cognitive and social developmental trajectories and convincingly argued that the developmental outcome of the children is the product of both primary (i.e. the family) and the secondary environments (i.e. the quality of childcare and early education).

Indeed, one can argue that disorganized and poorly run childcare centers with low teacher motivation and institutional expectations along with ineffective school practices could discourage achievement (see, for example, Allen & Niss, 1990; Pine & Hilliard, 1990). Therefore, the childcare center as an "out-of-home" issue might be of significant influence on child's outcome. In fact, the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (1997) found that childcare environment with better "structures" as measured by attributes as the teacher/pupil ratio, class size, and teacher/administrator background and experience contributed more to the effective "classroom process". …

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