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Child Care Accreditation in Alberta: An Institutional Ethnography Open Access


Other title
child care
child care accreditation
institutional ethnography
early childhood education
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lirette, Patricia R
Supervisor and department
Taylor, Alison (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
McCoy, Liza (Sociology, University of Calgary)
Kirova, Anna (Elementary Education)
Spencer, Brenda (Educational Policy Studies)
Prochner, Larry (Elementary Education)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Educational Administration and Leadership
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Interest is growing in early learning experiences and in the quality of the child care young children are receiving. In 2005, the Alberta government introduced a voluntary child care accreditation program, the first of its kind in Canada. The purpose of this research is to describe how the Alberta Child Care Accreditation Program (ACCAP) actually happens in Alberta child care centres from the standpoint of early childhood educators. This study uses institutional ethnography (IE) to critically examine the accreditation process. It attempts to understand how the coordination and intersection of work processes, activities, and relations organized by accreditation occur. Through interviews, text analysis, and mapping the steps and actions taken by educators and other experts in achieving accreditation, the social organization of accreditation becomes apparent. Following IE, the methodology for this research proceeded through two stages. Phase 1 focused on observing and talking to a group of informants in the field site to gain an understanding of the everyday work that they were undertaking to accomplish the six step accreditation process. Phase 2 involved exploring the accreditation process translocally, by explicating the connections created by and through accreditation, across and beyond the child care agency through interviews with secondary informants and texts identified as significant by the informants. My analysis suggests that, through accreditation: 1) the local actualities of child care are transformed into new textual realities to become institutionally actionable based on the terms and conditions of the Alberta government; 2) child care centres are hooked into new relations of accountability with families, the accrediting agency, the community, and the government through tracking, surveillance, funding, and service planning; 3) new categories of experts are developed and the authorized work processes of these experts produce the standardized accreditation decision-making process; 4) accreditation produces a new form of knowing, where the experiential and intuitive work knowledge of educators and their interests are often subjugated; and 5) accreditation concerts three new standardized work processes, which are held in place by the daily work of educators themselves and which serve to organize the work of educators differently.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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