Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rita J. Casey


The purpose of this study was to investigate what factors are associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, somatization, and general psychological distress in a sample of child care center workers. A sample of 101 employees from 14 different child care centers in the southeastern Michigan area were administered questionnaires that asked about work and home life, social support, and mental health. Data was also collected from center directors regarding the type and size of the child care program and the annual turnover rate of each facility. One of the key findings of the study was that a significant number of the child care workers scored above the clinical cutoffs on one or more symptom scale. One-fourth of the total sample had an elevation on at least one of the scales. Over 18% scored highly on the CES–D, a measure of depression symptoms. Even more surprising was that 15 individuals (14.9%) reported significant levels of anxiety, which has not been previously documented in a sample of child care workers. Symptoms of depression, as measured by the CES–D, and somatic complaints were strongly related to the recent experience of many stressful life events. In contrast, symptoms of anxiety and general psychological distress were associated with a combination of stressful life events and work-related problems. Age was also an important factor; older participants generally reported fewer symptoms on any of the scales and reported being more committed to the child care profession. At the center level, reported turnover rates were related to the participants' feelings of burnout. Large centers had more employees leave annually; large facilities also paid their employees less on average than smaller child care programs. Based on this study's results, recommendations were made for center directors who are interested in reducing their employees' stress in the center environment.