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La référence en crèche collective et multi-accueil : quels enjeux pour les enfants, les parents et les professionnelles ?

Abstract : Introduction: in collective day care centres, the primary caregiving system consists in assigning a primary caregiver to each young child as responsible for taking charge of his needs and care. This practice has raised much interest because it allows to individualize the care provided to infants and toddlers by limiting the impact of an early exposure to a collective setting on child development. However, the implementation of this system in child care facilities has rarely been the object of clinical and empirical studies. Moreover, this system is nowadays the object of controversies and debate about its relevance for the young children, the parents and the professionals involved. Objectives and methodology: a first qualitative and exploratory phase (based on interviews) aims to describe and to analyse how the primary caregiving system has been implemented in 17 day care centres in the Loiret department, in France, as well as the representations parents and professionals have about this system. Secondly, an experimental phase, comparing qualitative data (interviews) to quantitative data (development tests, type of attachment between the child and his caregiver, socio-emotional problems and skills) collected in nurseries applying and not applying primary caregiving system, tries to examine the impact of this approach on the creation of links between children and caregivers and on child development. Results: this study has revealed a widely heterogeneous implementation of the primary caregiving system in day care centres, depending in particular on the length of the assignment of the primary caregiver. A strong ambivalence about the primary caregiving system in its classic form was found among the participants. Hence, this system is seen both as providing security for the child and his parents when the assigned caregiver is present, but generating insecurity when she is absent. Some quantitative results seem to support the idea that the primary caregiving system promotes the formation of more secure attachment bonds between children and professionals. Finally, some contradictory and not significant results have been found regarding the impact of the primary caregiving system on child development. Only the developmental quotients related to socialisation and eye-hand coordination from the Brunet-Lézine Test-Revised appeared to be negatively influenced by the presence of primary caregivers, but this was not confirmed by the results from other tools. Discussion: unlike its implementation in foster care nurseries, the primary caregiving system in French day care centres seems to be focused on the organization of care it induces. The formation of a close or privileged relationship between the child and his assigned primary caregiver stands at the core of the debate and the challenges. Attachment theory and psychoanalysis provide some background for the discussion of this issue: is this privileged relationship an attachment link, essential for the child's security? Or is it rather a relational commitment including a risk of emotional spill-over and a sense of ownership? Some respondents considered that the primary caregiving system can answer to the first objective, but that it does not protect against the risk of exceeding the threshold of a fair affective distance, and might even increase it. This leads us to conclude that the implementation of primary caregiving in day care centres seems to have been reduced to a dual relationship and deprived of the essential presence of third parties (the team, the manager, the institution) which would enable professionals to better contain their emotions and feelings, to enhance the thinking on their practices and to help them to cope with emotional distance.
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Margot Violon. La référence en crèche collective et multi-accueil : quels enjeux pour les enfants, les parents et les professionnelles ?. Psychologie. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018USPCB106⟩. ⟨tel-02514889⟩

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