Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Donna M. Brackin


Researchers have stressed the importance of addressing the social/emotional needs of early childhood (EC) children, including the development of resilience; however, some U.S. school personnel focus more on academics than on these needs. When young children possess these skills, they can handle social/emotional challenges later in life. The purpose of this qualitative bounded case study was to explore school social workers' (SWs) perspectives about resilience in EC settings. Research questions focused on knowledge of existing programs, participants' perceptions of the successes and challenges of working with EC students, and their recommendations to improve EC students' education. Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory and O'Neill's and Gopnik's work on needs of young children informed this study. Five elementary school SWs with at least 6 years' experience from 5 districts in the U.S. Midwest participated in 2 semistructured individual interviews. Interpretive phenomenological analysis, involving first-cycle, transition, and second cycle coding, was used to identify themes. SWs' experiences indicated a need for a clear definition of resilience, and needs of young children, including EC programs that develop psychological resilience of children's thoughts and an increase in adults to promote resilience. Additional research may expand and enhance educators' and families' understanding of resilience and help develop research-based preventive programs and strategies to foster psychological resilience in young children. These endeavors may enhance positive social change by adding components of psychological resilience to EC programs for school personnel and students and in parent/family workshops, which may result in sound mental health practices that enable them to become productive members of society.