Defining management activity and organizational structure in day care centers

Arlene Rosa Teichberg, Fordham University


Child care is urgently needed, since more than ten million children have mothers who work. Traditional sources of child care, extended family and neighbors, are decreasing. Statistics show that over three fourths of preschoolers receive family day care, but over 94 percent of in-home care is unregulated. Day care centers, licensed in almost all states, represent an important form of regulated child care which provides planned programs to meet children's social, physical, and intellectual needs. However, the role of day care directors, who are responsible for managing these centers, has been little studied. This was an exploratory case study using the field study method of non-participant observation to observe four day care directors for approximately twenty-five hours each to identify their daily activities and leadership styles. A stratified sampling technique determined representativeness of New York State centers with respect to size--large and small, and governance and sponsorship. Four centers were chosen for a four way case comparison. Data collection methods consisted of observation of directors' calls, mail, tours, meetings, calendars, unstructured interviews, reading formal documents, and reviewing files. The findings revealed that day care leaders are neither typical System 4, participative leaders as defined by Likert, nor typical entrepreneurial leaders as defined by Mintzberg and Kets de Vries. Day care centers have some different characteristics from typical small organizations, and these characteristics influence directors' leadership styles. Heavy regulation by government requires extensive record keeping and meeting standards. Revenue generation is a constant problem. Directors in board sponsored centers had less decision making power than owner-directors. Day care directors performed the ten basic managerial roles identified by Mintzberg, operated informally with little written communication, numerous interruptions, and face-to-face meetings. Many unpredictable environmental factors impacted centers and their directors: staff turnover, low salaries, skyrocketing insurance premiums, operating deficits, and an increasing number of Child Protective Service referrals.

Subject Area

Preschool education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Teichberg, Arlene Rosa, "Defining management activity and organizational structure in day care centers" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109245.