Child Trends- 5 Ways to Improve the Quality of Early Care and Education
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Child Trends 5 is a new monthly publication from Child Trends.
April 26, 2013
President Obama's early learning initiative
proposal includes strategies to increase access to high-quality
preschool and expand the Early Head Start - Child Care Partnership
program serving infants and toddlers. While Congress will debate plan
funding and implementation, research provides solid guidance for
bolstering quality across the diverse array of early care and education
settings and programs. As the country considers a historic expansion of
early care and education opportunities for young children, Child Trends
offers a list of five ways to improve their quality:
Focus first on children's safety, health, and happiness.
of setting, children's safety, health, and happiness are the
non-negotiable elements of quality care and education. Minimizing
risk and maximizing children's opportunities to engage with
teachers, caregivers, other children, and the world around them are
essential strategies for promoting physical health and
social-emotional, language, and cognitive development. Rigorous
licensing regulations and regular monitoring of programs are
essential. Yet a review of existing state regulationsindicates that current protections for children are inadequate.
Support the early care and education workforce.
administrators, teachers, and caregivers working with young
children each day are at the center of creating high-quality early care
and education. The current workforce
has a low education level, and average annual incomes for some
workers are under the federal poverty level for a family of four,
despite efforts to promote higher qualifications and access to professional development. Further efforts should target improvements in the quality and content of early childhood education preparation programs; opportunities for supervised internships and student teaching; ongoing professional development that is rigorous and relevant; compensation parity; and coaching, consultation, and mentoring that facilitates the application of new knowledge to everyday practice.
Use observations and assessments to support every child's needs across all developmental domains.
Create a culture of continuous quality improvement.
early care and education programs never stop improving. Continuous
improvement starts with program leaders who engage themselves and staff
in reflecting on strengths and growth
areas through self-assessments, feedback from colleagues and parents,
and data collected about the quality of their program, classroom, or
child care home. Professional
development and technical assistance can be linked to growth areas, and
programs as a whole can annually update goals, objectives and strategies
for improving services. State Quality Rating and Improvement Systems offer quality standards, professional development supports and incentives to guide the quality improvement process.
Build partnerships to support quality.
Quality early care and education programs are supported by a larger
early childhood service system that includes access to health care and
medical homes for young children, social-emotional development and
mental health services that focus on prevention and intervention,
comprehensive parent engagement that is responsive to parents' needs,
and family support services to help families access resources and build
their capacity to support their children's development. An effective early childhood system is dependent on strong partnerships among early childhood settingsand
across service-delivery systems; coordination of resources; and
alignment of standards, which are critical for promoting quality early
care and education programs that can meet the full range of children's
and families' needs.
Contributors: Nicole Forry, Kathryn Tout, Tamara Halle and Sarah Daily
4/2013, Publication #2013-22
This Child Trends 5 was made possible with funding from The Harris Foundation.