Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child Development


The present study sought to explore infant teachers' understanding of the mental states of the infants in their care in child care centers. The goal of the study was to examine whether reflective function could be assessed through semi-structured interviews with infant teachers and whether the care environment of the center was

influential in supporting reflective capacity. To assess the care environment provided by the child care center, director interviews, teacher and director questionnaires and subscales of the Infant/Toddler Environmental Rating Scale, Revised (Harms, Cryer &

Clifford, 2003) were used. Participants in this study were 25 infant teachers and 24 child care center directors of community-based child care programs in Orange County, Florida.

Adaptation of the Parent Development Interview, Revised Short Version (Slade, Aber, Berger, Bresgi & Kaplan, 2003) for use with infant teachers in child care classrooms supplied evidence of infant teachers' capacity for reflective function, although a correlation with observed caregiving practices, as measured by subscales of

the Infant/Toddler Environmental Rating Scale, Revised was not found. Administrative support, training and education were not found to be correlated with higher levels of reflective capacity although staff support was. Qualitative analysis provided insight into infant teachers' perspectives on relationships, conscious caregiving and developmental issues related to the first year in non-maternal care. As the first year of an infant's life is an important period for the social-emotional development that forms the basis for later learning, this exploratory study provides new insight to the subtle elements that are at work influencing the quality of care provided to infants in child care centers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.