Children, Caregiving, Culture, and Community: Understanding the Place and Importance of Kith and Kin Care in the White Mountain Apache Community
AdvisorNichter, Mark A.
Committee ChairNichter, Mark A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe use of family, friends, and neighbors ("kith and kin") as caregivers for young children is a common practice in many cultural minority and impoverished communities in the U.S. Such caregivers often serve as trusted, familiar, affordable, and accessible sources of care, however, the quality of such "informal" child care is often questioned. This, I contend, is a consequence of the application of narrow constructs of quality derived from the values, practices, and experiences of the dominant class and culture.This dissertation details the roles that kith and kin caregivers fill in the White Mountain Apache community in east-central Arizona, and the functions such caregiving performs. Being in the care of kith and kin is important in giving children a sense of "place" within their extended family and the community. It teaches them their relations as well as the role and importance of family and community and reciprocity, and builds and reinforces family and community networks. It places children in the hands of grandmothers and other individuals with high cultural capital, hence providing a space, time, and opportunity for cultural learning. Kith and kin caregiving thus assists in the preservation of Apache language and culture by providing not only a context for cultural transmission and access to those with the greatest cultural knowledge and linguistic competence, but also by reinforcing a pedagogical role central to Apache culture and emphasizing the importance of family.While important, such functions of kith and kin care are ones not easily accounted for in existing constructions of quality. In order for standards of quality to have any meaning or utility in cultural minority communities, I argue that we need to encourage the development and utilization of culture and context specific definitions of caregiving quality and the inclusion of community standards. Constructs of quality must also speak to the well-being of children in their own communities and cultures. For Native communities, the incorporation of Native culture and language into child care programming and settings is essential to the health, maintenance, and cultural survival of these communities.