Center on Race and Social Problems

Exploring Multiple Discourses and the Construction of Relationships among African American Child Care Consultants and Teachers

Principal Investigator(s): 
Date: 
January 1, 2004 to January 1, 2007
Description: 

This study explores the ways African American child care consultants draw on both mainstream, professional ideas of child care quality and on more culturally indigenous conceptions of effective caregiving when working with African American child care teachers and providers to improve child care quality. By analyzing data collected via interviews and demographic surveys, this study answers the following questions:

  • What are the career/education pathways to becoming a child care consultant

  • To what extent are these particular African American consultants using communication strategies from both the professional world of early childhood education and from their own cultural communities that may or may not be recognized in formal training classes or program planning

  • Are there any associations between consultant background characteristics (i.e., education, age, pathway to position) and communication styles

  • What are consultants’ perceptions of themselves as cultural “insiders/outsiders” in these early care settings, and does their perceived position as “insider” or “outsider” affect the relationships they construct with child care teachers?


This exploratory study involves collecting survey (demographic) data and conducting semi-structured interviews with at least ten (10) African American female child care consultants who are specialists in the field of early childhood development. Recognition of the strength and effectiveness of African American styles of communication, helping and advising will make training programs for African American child care providers more meaningful and consistent with their helping roles in their community. For example, the findings from studies like this could be used to develop training programs that build on the ways child care teachers use both professional and personal styles of communicating child development concepts to families in a way that is culturally appropriate.