Differential parenting of children from diverse cultural backgrounds attending child care

Research Paper No. 39 – April 2007

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The total sample included 258 children (143 boys; 55.4%) enrolled in centre care and family day care, or using informal care only. The children ranged in age from 2 months to 69 months (M = 29.2 months) and used between 8 and 55 hours of child care per week. Within this sample, four cultural groups were defined, according to parent cultural background. Anglo children had two parents born in an English-speaking country, Somali children had two parents born in Somalia, and Vietnamese children had two parents born in Vietnam. Children from other non-Anglo cultural backgrounds had at least one parent who was born in another non-English-speaking country, typically a European country such as Italy (referred to as 'diverse (non-Anglo)' throughout the paper). Accordingly, 87 children were identified as Anglo, 82 as Somali, 68 as Vietnamese and 21 as diverse (non-Anglo).

Carers who were not of Somali or Vietnamese background were grouped together and called Anglo/diverse. There were 176 (68.2%) carers who were identified as Anglo/diverse, 54 (20.9%) as Somali and 28 (10.9%) as Vietnamese. Of these carers, 143 were centre carers (96% Anglo/diverse), 99 were family day carers (45% Somali) and 12 were informal carers (Somali and Vietnamese only).

Recruitment procedures

Child care centres and family day care schemes in Melbourne metropolitan areas with large Vietnamese and Somali populations were contacted initially and asked if they would assist in the recruitment of parents and carers. Additional parents, some using informal care only, were recruited through the community networks of the Vietnamese and Somali research assistants working on the study. Given the practicalities involved in recruiting Somali and Vietnamese participants, the study was not designed to generate samples of parents and children that were representative of Somali, Vietnamese and Anglo cultural backgrounds using child care services generally.

Data were collected in questionnaire format using a combination of Likert-type scales, categorical variables and open-ended questions. The questionnaires collected demographic information, information about child care arrangements, child development, childrearing beliefs and behaviours, parental expectations of child care and relationships between parents and carers.

Questionnaires were translated into Vietnamese or Somali and then 'back translated' to ensure accuracy. Vietnamese and Somali research assistants administered questionnaires to parents and carers in Somali or Vietnamese if this was preferred. Both the parent and carer of each child involved in the study were asked to complete questionnaires. Parent data were available for 238 children and carer data were available for 254 children. Information on parent/carer dyads was available in 226 cases.