Child Care Quality: Does It Matter and Does It Need to be Improved? (Full Report). How Is Child Care Quality Measured?

05/24/2000

A critical issue in evaluating the research evidence is consideration of how child care quality is measured. Researchers have measured quality in various ways: by observing process, by recording structural and caregiver characteristics, by assessing health and safety provisions. Child care processes refer to actual experiences that occur in child care settings, including children’s interactions with caregivers and peers and their participation in different activities. Sometimes process measures are global scores that combine experiences across several areas that include health and safety provisions, interactions with caregivers, and age-appropriate materials. Other process measures target specific activities or experiences, such as language stimulation by caregivers. Structural and caregiver characteristics refer to features such as child:adult ratio, group class size, caregiver formal education, and caregiver specialized training related to children. Structural and caregiver characteristics are conceptualized as more distal indicators of child care quality. Health and safety provisions refer to both health-promoting practices, such as hand-washing, and safety in the classroom and on playgrounds.

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