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A Count for Quality: Child Care Center Directors on Rating and Improvement Systems. Karen Schulman National Women’s Law Center NARA Licensing Seminar September 11, 2012 . Introduction.

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a count for quality child care center directors on rating and improvement systems

A Count for Quality: Child Care Center Directors on Rating and Improvement Systems

Karen Schulman

National Women’s Law Center

NARA Licensing Seminar

September 11, 2012

  • Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) are a strategy to assess the quality of child care programs, assist programs in improving their ratings, and inform parents about the quality of child care programs.
  • QRIS are growing rapidly – 22 states have statewide programs and four have QRIS in one or more communities. It is also a key component of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.
  • NWLC and CLASP spoke with child care center directors about their experiences with QRIS to gain insight into how the systems are working and how they could be improved.
key components for a successful qris
Key Components for a Successful QRIS
  • Strong quality rating standards
  • Effective quality measurement, monitoring, and assessment
  • Incentives and support for improving quality ratings
  • Efforts to make QRIS responsive to the needs of all children
  • Parent education and involvement
  • Aligning standards across early care and education settings
staff education training and professional development standards
Staff Education, Training, and Professional Development Standards
  • Most QRIS include education and training requirements for directors and teachers.
  • Directors supported these requirements and believed that professionalizing the workforce benefits children.
  • Directors wanted more supports, including better access to training, a wider and more diverse range of training options, and funding to reward teachers who obtain higher credentials.
classroom environment standards
Classroom Environment Standards
  • Most QRIS use the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) to judge the classroom environment and experience (space, materials, activities, interactions, schedules and routines).
  • QRIS rating may be based on achieving a minimum score on each subscale and/or in each classroom, or an average score across subscales and/or classrooms.
  • Some centers are able to improve certain aspects of their classroom environment, but find it very difficult to improve other aspects, such as facilities that would require expensive renovations to meet higher standards.
  • Some directors believed their QRIS classroom environment standards did not place enough emphasis on teacher-child interaction.
family engagement standards
Family Engagement Standards
  • Criteria for family engagement can include parent-teacher conferences, family activities, and parent advisory boards.
  • Directors recognized family engagement as essential to children’s development and supported standards in this area.
  • Most directors did not find it difficult to meet their states’ family engagement standards and many thought their states should have even higher standards that encourage ongoing interactions and building relationships with families.
center administration and management standards
Center Administration and Management Standards
  • Criteria can include record-keeping practices, written policies and manuals, and in some instances compensation and benefits.
  • Directors wanted more training and technical assistance on business and management practices.
  • Small centers particularly need support in this area since they often lack the additional staff to devote to administration and management.
monitoring and assessments
Monitoring and Assessments
  • For assessments to truly function as a mechanism for improvement, directors thought there should be:
    • Reliability and consistency among assessors and technical assistance specialists.
    • Comprehensiveness in the evaluation of their centers.
    • Feedback to facilitate improvement.
    • Coordination between QRIS assessments and other monitoring requirements.
  • Directors said that a well-designed assessment process can lead to an increased sense of pride, professionalism, and teamwork.
monetary qris supports
Monetary QRIS Supports
  • Grants, awards, bonuses, tiered reimbursement
  • These supports are needed cover additional costs entailed in achieving and maintaining higher quality levels (salaries for teachers with higher education credentials, staff training and education, supplies and materials).
  • Most child care providers rely on state and other outside funding to help with these costs because they cannot ask low- and moderate-income families to pay higher fees.
  • Tiered reimbursement targets resources toward providers who serve low-income children receiving child care assistance, who could most benefit from high-quality care.
non monetary qris supports
Non-monetary QRIS Supports
  • Coaching, mentoring, technical assistance, peer-to-peer support
  • Help in understanding and meeting QRIS standards
  • Most effective when provided on a regular and ongoing basis
private supports
Private Supports
  • Many centers must constantly fundraise and seek grants.
  • Small centers lack the support available to centers that are part of for-profit chains or larger agencies.
  • Private funding is often limited in scope, only available for a certain time period, or only available in certain communities.
responding to the needs of all children
Responding to the Needs of All Children
  • Directors supported a greater focus on the caregiver-child relationship in QRIS standards for infant/toddler care.
  • Directors agreed that QRIS standards should include more specific criteria on cultural and linguistic competency.
  • Directors discussed the importance of QRIS standards that are appropriate for the care of children with disabilities and other special needs and program assessors who understand and recognize appropriate practices for children with disabilities and other special needs that will ensure children’s safety and well-being.
helping families identify and choose high quality care
Helping Families Identify and Choose High-Quality Care
  • QRIS are intended to help parents choose high-quality care.
  • Directors believed states need more consistent and sustained efforts to inform parents about QRIS, programs’ ratings, and child care quality in general.
    • Information can be provided through written materials, websites, and child care resource and referral agencies as well as pediatricians, parent networks, and other trusted sources.
  • Directors believed child care subsidy agencies should share information on QRIS with families receiving child care assistance.
aligning standards across the early childhood system
Aligning Standards Across the Early Childhood System
  • Licensing and QRIS are part of separate systems in most states; standards for licensing and QRIS are sometimes not entirely consistent or coordinated.
  • Alignment between accreditation and QRIS (for example, by making accreditation the highest quality level) can create an extra incentive for centers to become accredited.
  • Tying together QRIS and child care assistance (for example, through tiered reimbursement) helps providers that serve low-income children improve quality.
  • Linking QRIS and state prekindergarten programs (for example, by allowing providers to offer pre-k if they achieve a certain quality rating) can facilitate participation in both systems.
cross cutting lessons
Cross-Cutting Lessons
  • Communication among child care providers, licensors, assessors, coaches, and parents
  • Relationships between children and caregivers, programs and parents, centers and coaches
  • Resources to achieve and maintain a higher quality level
  • Review and reassessment to ensure QRIS are implemented effectively to improve the quality of care and meet the needs of all children
recommendations for policy makers
Recommendations for Policy Makers
  • Set quality rating standards that appropriately reflect elements essential to the quality of care.
  • Establish a quality assessment process that is reliable and responsive.
  • Provide sufficient, sustained incentives and support for improving quality.
  • Design QRIS to meet the needs of all children.
  • Educate parents about QRIS and high-quality care.
  • Align QRIS with other high-quality programs and components within the early childhood system.