How child care providers see themselves: The development of perceived professional role and social role identity
Follmer, Holly E.
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Little is known about child care providers’ perspectives on their role, their identities when assuming the role, or the process by which these perspectives are formed. The purpose of this study is to expand the existing early care and education literature on role and identity formation and perception development. Feminist family perspectives and symbolic interactionism served as the theoretical frameworks for the study. Through the use of qualitative, semi-structured interviews, provider perceptions on the child care provider role were addressed. Ten center-based, female child care providers were interviewed about their personal experiences, work histories, and current understanding and opinions of their lead provider role. Grounded theory methodology was used to develop and conduct the interviews and analyze the results. Analysis revealed three interrelated processes in the course of assuming the “lead” child care provider positions in center-based child care: becoming a child care provider, developing role perceptions, and enacting the provider role. Various external and internal factors interacted to shape perceived professional role and social role identity. Discussion in the study relates the findings to concepts constructed from the existing literature. New findings added to the early care and education field include the identification to two processes for entering the field, an explanation of provider perception formation, and the concept of multiple social role identities being presented when enacting the child care provider role.