Foreign domestic helpers’ involvement in non-parental childcare: a multiple case study in Hong Kong

Shaocong Ma, Eva E. Chen, Hui Li

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    8 Citations (Scopus)
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    This multiple case study investigates the involvement of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong early childcare. Three middle-class families were chosen; one parent, one FDH, one teacher, and one preschool child within each family were interviewed. A grounded theory analysis approach was adopted to examine the interviews. Analyses revealed the following four themes: (1) reasons for FDHs’ involvement in childcare; (2) discrepancies in childcare beliefs and practices; (3) interactions among children, parents, FDHs, and teachers; and (4) the influence of FDH-involved childcare on child development. Parents were driven more by the financial benefits of FDH-provided childcare rather than by pedagogical considerations; however, they also expected the FDHs to discipline children according to their educational goals. Because FDHs could only offer basic childcare, they frequently came into conflict with the parents. FDHs also faced multiple challenges with the school teachers, with the children, and even from the local cultural context. These conflicts and challenges FDHs experienced had a substantial impact on the childcare provided, and subsequently on the children’s language and socioemotional development. A theoretical framework was established to conceptualize FDH-involved non-parental childcare. The implications for childcare-related policies in Hong Kong and other societies were discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)427-446
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Research in Childhood Education
    Issue number3
    Early online date18 Dec 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


    • early child development
    • early childhood education
    • foreign domestic helpers
    • non-parental childcare
    • parent-child relationships


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