Panel: Supporting Quality Improvement in Child Care: Provider, Program and Policy Perspectives
(Family and Child Policy)

Saturday, November 4, 2017: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Stetson G (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Juliet Bromer, Erikson Institute
Panel Chairs:  Sydney Hans, University of Chicago
Discussants:  Gail Nelson, Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development and Jocelyn Bonnes Bowne, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care

Provider Experiences with State Quality Initiatives: The Case of Illinois’ QRIS
Julia Henly, University of Chicago, Juliet Bromer, Erikson Institute and Heather Sandstrom, Urban Institute

Improving Home-Based Child Care Quality: Findings from a National Study of Family Child Care Networks
Juliet Bromer1, Toni Porter2 and Jon Korfmacher1, (1)Erikson Institute, (2)Early Care & Education Consulting

National data indicate that 60% of young children under age five are cared for in non-parental child care arrangements in the U.S. (Redford, Desrochers, & Hoyer, 2017). The majority of child care, especially for infants and toddlers, is offered by home-based child care providers (family child care and family, friend, and neighbor caregivers) while center-based programs are more likely to care for preschool-aged children (NSECE, 2013). Most research on child care focuses on the characteristics of individual child care settings including the caregiving environment and provider-child interactions and finds that quality of care across settings is mediocre to poor (NICHD, 2006; Kontos, Howes, Shinn, & Galinsky, 1995), with home-based child care consistently rated lower quality than more formal center-based settings (Bassok, Fitzpatrick, Greenberg, & Loeb, 2016). Fewer studies examine quality improvement initiatives and how provider efforts to offer quality child care may be shaped by external policies and programs.  

A myriad of federal, state, and local policies and programs aim to improve child care quality and increase support for working families given the large body of research linking positive child outcomes to high-quality early care and learning experiences (NRC & IOM, 2000). These include federal initiatives such as the Child Care & Development Fund (CCDF) that helps working families identify and access high-quality child care, state level quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) which help families select high-quality child care and offer providers support around quality improvement, and an array of local programs such as family child care networks and child care resource and referral agencies aimed at increasing high-quality child care for young children and their families.

The proposed panel will examine how federal, state, and local programs may shape quality improvement experiences and child care quality across settings. The first paper examines how the federal CCDF program shapes the supply of high-quality child care available to low-income families across five counties in four states. This paper presents focus group and survey data that rely on provider and subsidy administrator perspectives to explore the relationship between subsidy system participation and child care quality. The second paper examines provider and stakeholder perspectives on engagement and participation in one state’s QRIS through a qualitative, grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis. The third paper presents descriptive findings from a national study of local family child care support networks that aims to measure, through surveys and in-depth interviews, the prevalence of local programs across states that serve providers as well as the range of services that are most likely to improve quality outcomes.

Two state-level administrators, from IL and MA, will serve as discussants, each bringing a unique state policy perspective to the panel. MA has a long history of supporting home-based child care providers through state-subsidized family child care systems that offer a range of supports and professional development to caregivers. IL has a new QRIS that aims to align early care and education programs across sectors – community based child care, school-based preschool, Head Start, and family child care.

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