Degree Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Laura Wangsness Willemsen

Second Advisor

Dr. Bryan Bass

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Craig


The Department of Defense operates the largest employer-sponsored childcare system in the United States. Army Child and Youth Services is the largest component of the military childcare system, employing over 5,400 early childhood educators who care for and teach soldier and Department of Defense Civilian children aged six weeks to five years old in child development center settings. Early childhood educators’ workplace wellbeing and turnover has long been the focus of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers alike. Despite extensive research examining these issues in the civilian childcare context, military-provided early education has heretofore been absent from the research literature. This globally situated, mixed-methods research rectifies this absence by exploring the workplace wellbeing and turnover intentions of 271 Army Child and Youth Services early childhood educators employed at 34 child development centers located on 15 Army installations in nine states, five countries, and one U.S. Territory. A primary contribution of this study is the formation of the Early Childhood Educator Workplace Wellbeing Theoretical Framework consisting of the interconnected domains of (a) organizational supports, (b) emotional wellbeing, (c) physical wellbeing, and (d) professional relationships. A confirmatory factor analysis verified the domains of the ECE Workplace Wellbeing Theoretical Framework as a robust construct of overall ECE workplace wellbeing. A logistic regression model predicted turnover intentions based on ECE workplace wellbeing, resulting in a 765% increase in the odds of planning to stay working in Army Child and Youth Services for each one unit increase in workplace wellbeing. These findings indicate workplace wellbeing is a strong predictor of turnover intentions, which is significant since 16.5% of participants report they plan to quit their job in the next 12 months. In addition, quantitative and qualitative data reveal findings specific to the organization that may be utilized to inform policy and practice. iii Participants in the current study specify their relationships with children are the primary reason they continue to work in Army Child and Youth Services. They are proud of their work and find purpose by making a difference in the lives of military children and their families. Pay and benefits were reported as reasons to stay working in CYS, yet participants offer the recommendation to provide benefits to flex employees, specifically health insurance and sick leave. The consideration of workplace wellbeing and turnover intentions in this study prioritizes the needs and humanness of early childhood educators, which is a foundational element to providing quality care for young children