Family child care provider beliefs and program quality: A longitudinal study investigating the role of consultation

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Stein, Amanda
Major Professor
Kere Hughes-belding
Susan Hegland
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Human Development and Family Studies

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies focuses on the interactions among individuals, families, and their resources and environments throughout their lifespans. It consists of three majors: Child, Adult, and Family Services (preparing students to work for agencies serving children, youth, adults, and families); Family Finance, Housing, and Policy (preparing students for work as financial counselors, insurance agents, loan-officers, lobbyists, policy experts, etc); and Early Childhood Education (preparing students to teach and work with young children and their families).


The Department of Human Development and Family Studies was formed in 1991 from the merger of the Department of Family Environment and the Department of Child Development.

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  • College of Human Sciences (parent college)
  • Department of Child Development (predecessor)
  • Department of Family Environment (predecessor)

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Considering the large numbers of young children being cared for in family child care programs and acknowledging the general lack of regulations and supports for these home-based providers, an examination of factors influencing the quality of care children experiences in these settings is imperative. The present studies examine the relations among structural indicators often association with quality, providers' beliefs about best practices with young children and beliefs about professional motivation, job-related stress, and observed quality in family child care programs. Interviews were used to gather data about provider beliefs and program structural characteristics. In addition, observational data about the global process quality and the quality of adult-child interactions were collected in a sample of 343 home-based family child care providers in five states who had agreed to participate in an intervention study on the effectiveness of a model of consultation aimed at quality enhancement. The overall purpose of these studies was to address the shortage of research in family child care and to examine the gaps in defining child care quality by investigating both structural characteristics and beliefs as predictors of quality.

Chapter III, the first empirical article, provides a detailed description of this sample of family child care providers and their beliefs, the characteristics of their programs, and ratings of observed process quality. Data for this study come from the Quality Interventions in Early Care and Education (QUINCE) study designed to investigate a quality enhancement initiative and consist of information obtained prior to any consultation intervention. In addition, this study examines the relations among provider and program structural characteristics, measures of beliefs, and the quality of care being provided in this sample of family child care homes. Overall, the observed global and education quality in this sample of family child care programs is low. Results indicate a relationship for having a two-year degree related to early childhood, more hours of professional development training, and more years of experience in the field of child care to better program quality. In addition to more commonly measured structural characteristics, having more progressive beliefs about child rearing, a better understanding of developmentally appropriate practices, and less job stress were all significant predictors of global quality. Providing professional development and support to family child care providers for understanding appropriate developmental practices and how to effectively guide children is critical for quality improvement efforts. In addition, providing support for decreasing job stress is an important factor in improving quality. The implications of these findings for future research and efforts directed toward quality enhancement in family child care settings are discussed. Chapter IV, the second empirical study, focuses on structural characteristics of programs, beliefs of family child care providers, and the impact of participation in the Partnerships for Inclusion (PFI) model of consultation and on the associations of these variables to observed quality both immediately after completing consultation and in sustained change (six months later). Findings indicate mixed results for the influence of structural characteristics on changes in program quality. Results of this study also suggest that having lower levels of job dissatisfaction and stress was related to both immediate and sustained changes in quality and provided additional prediction of process quality for family child care homes above the prediction from structural characteristics.

Overall, the receipt of PFI consultation was associated with improved process quality soon after the completion of consultation and in sustained change, even after controlling for the influence of the state in which the program operated, structural characteristics, provider beliefs, and baseline assessments of quality. However, participation in PFI consultation was not found to be related to changes in the quality of adult-child interactions. Therefore, intensive, on-site consultation has notable benefits for improving family child care program quality. In addition, providing support for decreasing job stress and improving job satisfaction has implications for quality of early care. These findings are of critical importance considering the large numbers of young children receiving care in home-based programs and consistent reports of low quality and lack of regulations in these settings. Findings from these studies contribute to the limited body of knowledge and research related to intervention and evaluation of family child care and provide direction for future quality enhancement efforts.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2010