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- What were the research methods used in recent studies of professional development for home-based providers?
- What practical advice do experienced researchers offer for engaging home-based providers in research?
Many states are expanding training and professional development for home-based child care providers in response to the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act. As states roll out new training initiatives, opportunities exist for planning research and evaluation to learn more about home-based providers and how to improve the quality of care they provide. This brief is intended to support Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) lead agency staff and others who oversee or conduct such research.
The brief provides information to support the design of rigorous research through
- a review of 19 recent studies that examine efforts to improve the skills and professional development of home-based child care providers, highlighting research designs, study populations and samples, data collection methods and instruments, and recruitment challenges and strategies for engaging providers;
- tables summarizing the studies, organized by study design type; and
- best-practice evaluation tips from four researchers experienced in engaging home-based providers.
Reviewing others’ approaches to research and evaluation can help state CCDF agencies think about how to design research to inform their policies and practices related to home-based providers.
Expansions of training and professional development for home-based providers in response to the 2014 CCDBG Act reauthorization present an important opportunity for research. We hope this short summary of past research approaches and tips from research experts will help CCDF agencies and researchers seize this opportunity and design rigorous research that will inform state agencies and the field at large about how professional development and training interventions are being implemented and their effectiveness in improving caregiver skills, quality of care, and children’s outcomes.
Key Findings and Highlights
The brief highlights 19 diverse studies around training and professional development for home-based child care providers. Research methods vary depending on the research question and stage of the intervention. Examples of past work range from descriptive studies of home-based providers’ needs and preferences to process evaluations examining intervention implementation to experimental outcomes studies evaluating intervention effectiveness.
A key consideration is how to engage home-based providers. Research experts offered the following tips:
- Consider using community partners for recruitment and/or hiring field researchers within the community.
- Allow providers to respond to surveys in several ways (e.g., web based, hard copy via mail and in person) to increase response rates.
- Offer financial incentives to encourage participation.
- Emphasize that you want to give a voice to a group that is often ignored.
This brief is based on a scan of recent literature, supplemented by consultation with researchers experienced in evaluating home-based providers. For the literature scan, we searched the Child Care and Early Education Research Connections database for resources in English published after 2010. We supplemented the online search by reviewing two earlier literature reviews; studies in the reference lists of identified resources; studies recommended by a senior adviser on this project; and publications on the websites of several CCDF lead agencies. Through this process, we identified 19 publications that met the criteria set out above for guiding future evaluation work with home-based providers.
In addition, the authors held a structured, hour-long group discussion with four researchers with expertise in engaging home-based providers to learn more about challenges and opportunities involved in engaging home-based providers in research.
Coffey, Amelia and Julia Isaacs (2019). Evaluating Training and Professional Development for Home-Based Providers: A Brief for CCDF Lead Agencies and Researchers, OPRE Report # 2019-11, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Descriptive studies:
- Studies designed to describe an intervention without assessing impacts of an intervention on outcomes or necessarily offering recommendations for improvements in implementation.
- Experimental outcomes studies:
- Studies designed to determine if the intervention has effects on outcomes and that do so by developing control and treatment groups through random assignment of individuals to each group. These studies offer the greatest potential to generate credible evidence of program effectiveness because random assignment to treatment and control groups reduces the likelihood of between-group differences that might affect how the intervention affects each group.
- Inputs and activities provided to bring about outputs (e.g., providers completing a professional development course) that create changes or outcomes in the recipient group (e.g., improved kindergarten readiness of children in a provider’s care).
- Process or implementation studies:
- Studies that examine how well an intervention is operating as intended. A process evaluation involves collecting data to describe the intervention in detail and offers guidance for potential changes to delivery of the intervention to improve effectiveness.