Researchers have consistently found associations between child care quality and children’s developmental outcomes in early childhood (for example, Burchinal et al., 2000; McCartney, Dearing, Taylor, & Bub, 2007; NICHD-ECCRN, 2000, 2002, 2003). However, many of these studies have focused on center-based programs for preschoolers; fewer have focused on early care for infants and toddlers, and for children in home-based settings. In addition, data regarding the quality of child care provided to children of low-income families have generally not been based on nationally representative samples; instead, they have tended to come from localized samples (Knox, London, Scott, & Blank, 2003; Pine, 1999), large studies with samples representing a broad range of income levels (for example, NICHD-ECCRN, 2001), or studies of specific early childhood interventions (for example, Campbell, Pungello, Miller-Johnson, Burchinal, & Ramey, 2001; Schweinhart et al., 2005).
Recent analyses of nationally representative samples of low-income infants and toddlers have revealed that these children are more likely to be cared for in home-based settings than in center-based settings (Halle et al., 2008; Iruka & Carver, 2006). Similar patterns have been found in child care data within individual states (Lippman, Vandivere, Keith, & Atienza, 2008). However, there is little research base examining the indicators of quality in home-based settings (see Doherty, Forer, Lero, Goelman, & LaGrange, 2006, for a recent study) and it has not differentiated the features of quality that may be most important for children of different ages. Additional studies need to explore the factors within home-based settings that are important for low-income infants’ and toddlers’ developmental outcomes.