Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


School of Urban and Regional Studies

Major Professor

Dr. Jeffrey Parker

Second Advisor

Dr. David Gladstone

Third Advisor

Dr. Sarintha Stricklin

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jenna Chiasson


Research has often highlighted the positive effects of high-quality early care and education on children's development and the economy. However, the challenge of ensuring access to quality care for all children and understanding the perspectives of leaders doing crucial work on the ground remains. Given the strong associations between high-quality early childhood education, brain development, and positive economic outcomes for those who access high-quality care, my paper introduces a theory of change. This theory outlines a pathway from understanding the determinants of quality in childcare centers, as seen through the eyes of industry leaders, to the implementation of policy changes. I focus on how leaders within the industry describe themselves, their centers, the world, and their values. The evidence presented in this paper showcases strategies that leaders employ to uphold their status as pioneers in early childhood education.


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