Background:

The purpose of this study is to examine child care providers’ help seeking behaviors and barriers to mental health treatment.  There are almost 25,000 childcare providers in Texas serving over one million children a year (DFPS,).  Given the numbers of children receiving care outside their homes, attention must be paid to the mental health of non-family child care providers.  As an example, high stress levels of child care workers lead to negative consequences for children (Curbow et al., 2000).  To ensure children are receiving high quality care, it is necessary for research and public discourse about the need and support systems to be available for child providers.

Research has examined sources of job stress, job turnover and job satisfaction among child care providers (Curbow et al., 2000).  However, little research has examined the mental health of child care providers despite evidence that providers have high rates of depression (Fish, 2005). In fact, personal care workers, including child care providers, report the highest levels of depression compared to workers in any other occupational category (SAMSHA, 2007). Notwithstanding substantiated levels of depression, there is a scarcity of in depth information on child care provider mental health and factors that determine if a provider will seek mental health treatment or other support.

While services exist to support providers in mitigating mental health needs of children in their care, there are few support services designed to support child care provider’s mental health issues and work related stress.  Given the lack of information available on this topic, it is pertinent that research and discourse focus on providers to guide the development of appropriate mental health support services and ultimately improve the quality of child care.

To Participate:

There are two ways to participate in this study.  If you are a child care provider who lives in the Austin area, you may be able to participate in one of the six focus groups we will be conducting in the summer of 2011.  Please contact Dr. Monica Faulkner if you are interested in participating.

The second way to participate in this study is to complete an online survey of child care providers. The survey is not yet available. Please check back at a later time.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1.  How much time will this take?
The focus groups will last approximately one hour.  Focus groups will occur at locations convenient to participants such as schools, community centers or churches.
The online survey will take 10 to 15 minutes of your time.

2.  What types of questions will I be asked?
In the focus groups, we will be asking participants for general information about their experiences working in child care, sources of stress related to their jobs and how they take care of themselves.  The online survey asks for general demographic information, job related information, work-related stress, depression, anxiety and attitudes about seeking mental health treatment.

3.  Will I be compensated for my time?
In order to thank you for your time, focus group participants will receive $15 gift cards and individuals who complete the online survey will receive $5 gift cards.  You will have a choice of gift cards to HEB or Walmart.

4.  Will my responses be confidential?
Yes.  Your responses in the focus group and/or online survey will be confidential.  For the online survey, you will be asked for your name and address so that we can mail you a gift card.  However, after we have mailed that gift card and we have finished collecting all our data, we will delete your name.  Your name and any other identifying information will be deleted from our records.

5. What are you going to do with this information?
Because there is so little information about child care providers and their emotional well-being, we are collecting this data as a means to start a larger conversation about the needs of child care providers.  Ideally, we would like to have this information used to inform the development of services to support child care providers.

6.  Where can I get help?
Services available in Texas vary across the state.  If you feel you are in immediate danger to yourself or others, call 911.  However, if you are in a non-emergency situation and would like mental health assistance, a good resource to begin with is the website by the state health department which directs you to local resources: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mhsa-mh-help/

Additionally, you are welcome to contact us and we may be able to assist you in finding resources in your area.  Please contact Dr. Monica Faulkner, LMSW at (512) 351-2488 or mfaulkner@mail.utexas.edu

For more information about this study, please contact any of the following people:

Monica Faulkner, Ph.D., LMSW
Co-Investigator, Project Coordinator
Email: MFaulkner@mail.utexas.edu
Phone: (512) 471-7191
Fax: (512) 471-9600

Dnika Travis, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
Email: dtravis@mail.utexas.edu
Phone:  (512) 471-2081

Paula Gerstanblatt
Research Assistant
Email: paulagerstanblatt@gmail.com
Phone: (512) 205-3395