Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer


An increasing focus on early childhood education and brain research offers a prime opportunity for higher education institutions to research and formulate thought concerning quality child care. Currently, there is limited research examining the impact and roles of child care centers on university campuses. To add to the base of knowledge, this nationally-focused study examined the following broad question: "what value do campus child care centers offer to a given higher education institution and its surrounding community, especially from a center director's perspective?"

An on-line survey was sent to over 400 campus child care directors at two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities to assess perceptions regarding their centers' internal and external roles, as well as each director's role. A response rate of 191 (48%) was achieved.

Directors believe their centers are most successful within the university by offering a variety of care options, modeling age appropriate practices, and providing work opportunities for students. Campus centers are most successful in their external communities by modeling quality child care practices and secondly, improving relations. This study found a lack of substantial barriers to the successful daily operation of most centers.

The dependent variables of this study were center integration, internal and external success. Independent variables included number of years a director has served, years a center has been in existence, types of programs offered by the center, activities undertaken by the center director, and mission of center as understood by administrators. It was found that an active campus child care director with a prehensive grasp and contextual leadership positively influences integration into the university. On the other hand, a major finding of this study was that only a small percentage of centers are fully integrated.

Administrators should continue to support the function of a comprehensive center. Overall, study findings reveal that the perceived value of the campus center is through dissemination of its mission of education, training and meeting the needs of its constituents for the benefit of the university.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access