This study conducted observations on quality and interviewed directors in a random sample of 100 infant classrooms and 100 toddler classrooms in licensed community centers in Massachusetts. The researchers found that one-quarter of infant classrooms and 31 percent of toddler classrooms provided care that met professional standards for infant/toddler programs. Centers that served predominantly low-income or low- to-moderate income families were less likely to receive the level of early care and education that will prepare them for school and later life, with toddlers in low-income centers at the greatest risk. Parent fees were the most important source of revenues for centers serving low-to-moderate, moderate, and high-income families. Government subsidies were an important revenue source for centers serving low- income families. Labor costs were the single largest component of center expenditures. Higher-quality infant and toddler care costs significantly more than lower-quality infant/toddler care. Classrooms with better child: staff ratios, more experienced and better educated teachers provided better quality care overall, including more developmentally-appropriate stimulation, and better relationships between classroom staff and children. Centers serving different income groups varied considerably in the quality of care they provided. While qualified teachers are clearly an important part of quality early care and education, center directors reported that it was difficult to hire qualified teachers. Data collected in this study provide evidence that higher quality early care and education is associated with greater costs.
PIC ID: 8213; Agency Sponsor: ACF-ACYF, Administration on Children, Youth and Families; Federal Contact: Martinez-Beck, Ivelisse, 202-690-7885; Performer: Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley, MA