A Mixed Methods Investigation of Maternal Perspectives on Transition Experiences in Early Care and Education

Rebecca Anne Swartz, Katherine Elizabeth Speirs, Amy Johnson Encinger, Nancy L. McElwain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Research Findings: Strong relationships among children, families, and early care and education (ECE) providers are key to quality infant–toddler care. These relationships are shaped during the initial transition period to group care. We used a mixed methods approach to (a) assess maternal perspectives on the transition to group care, (b) explore mothers’ perceptions of factors that made for easy or difficult transitions, and (c) examine associations between maternal and child characteristics and the ease of the transition. Through qualitative interviews, mothers identified factors that played a role in their child’s transition, including the child’s age, the ECE provider’s support, and the number of transitions the child experienced. For mothers, an easy transition was characterized by ease of child adjustment to group care, comfort with nonparental care and returning to work, and being able to exercise some control over the transition. Quantitative analyses revealed that an easy child transition was associated with younger child age, low maternal distress reactions to child distress, and low child social fearfulness. Higher maternal depressive symptoms and maternal distress reactions to child distress were associated with mothers having a difficult transition. Practice or Policy: Implications of the findings for ECE provider training and ECE policy development related to transitions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-189
Number of pages20
JournalEarly Education and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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