New Zealand Families' Beliefs About What Constitutes Successful Management of Unsupervised Childcare
This study explored what some New Zealand families believe constitutes the successful management of unsupervised childcare. It was designed to increase social understanding and practitioner knowledge of the issue by exploring families' beliefs, practices and perspectives. A qualitative descriptive approach was used to obtain a straight description of successful unsupervised childcare, using the everyday language of the participating families. Data was collected in semi structured interviews with five family groups, and subjected to content and thematic analysis. Findings suggest unsupervised childcare is both choice and solution, though parents are fearful of the legal and social consequences of using it. Context of the care is important, with the child's preference, community context and availability of adults through distal supervision critical components of its success. Trust between parent and child, the use of rules and boundaries to regulate child behaviour, the teaching of skills and strategies to build child competency, and parental support of children while unsupervised are identified by parents as factors linked to success. Parents identify increasing child independence and self responsibility as positive outcomes from the successful use of unsupervised childcare. The findings from this study, while not conclusive, provide an insight into the New Zealand experience of successful unsupervised childcare. This study has helped to identify positive factors resulting in good outcomes from which successful interventions could be developed, provides information that will be of particular interest to practitioners and policy makers, and provides a platform to launch larger studies into the issue of unsupervised children.