Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships: Partnering to Improve the Quality of Infant-Toddler Care

Publication Date: July 9, 2020
This is the cover of Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships: Partnering to Improve the Quality of Infant-Toddler Care

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  • Published: 2020

Introduction

Research Questions

  1. How do EHS-CC Partnerships ensure all settings serving infant and toddlers are meeting the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS)? How do EHS-CC Partnerships identify quality improvement needs?
  2. How do EHS-CC Partnerships support high quality learning environments for infants and toddlers?
  3. How do EHS-CC Partnerships support the skills and credentials of staff caring for infants and toddlers?

Prior research suggests that partnerships in early care and education have the potential to enhance the quality of care and offer comprehensive services to more children and families. This brief draws on data from the national descriptive study of Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships to describe the activities partnerships engage in to improve the quality of services for infants, toddlers, and their families. The national descriptive study was designed to develop a rich knowledge base about the EHS programs, community-based child care centers, and family child care providers participating in a 2015 federal grants program supporting the development of EHS-CC Partnerships and aiming to increase access to high quality infant-toddler care for low-income families.

The national descriptive study is the first to examine partnering EHS programs and child care providers within a national sample. The data presented in this brief provide national estimates of the quality improvement activities they engaged in through their partnerships. Additionally, this brief highlights findings from in-depth case studies of 10 EHS-CC Partnerships to illustrate some of the quality improvement opportunities and challenges they encountered.

Purpose

The purpose of this brief is to describe the quality improvement activities of EHS and child care programs participating in EHS-CC Partnerships. Using data from the national descriptive study of EHS-CC Partnerships, this brief documents EHS-CC Partnership efforts to set high standards for quality, assess quality improvement needs, and support high quality caregiving and learning environments for infant and toddlers. The information and lessons learned aim to inform ongoing and future activities of partnerships in early care and education programs as well as training and technical assistance efforts.

Key Findings and Highlights

Partnership programs engaged in a variety of activities for improving the quality of care for infants, toddlers, and families served through the EHS-CC Partnerships:

  • Most child care partners received guidance on implementing the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) from their EHS partners. After approximately one year of implementing the partnership, nearly all child care partners reported that they met most or all of the HSPPS.
  • Nearly all EHS partners engaged in activities with child care partners to monitor the quality of services offered and used information gathered during quality monitoring activities to provide staff training.
  • EHS partners offered professional development opportunities to most child care partners, including opportunities to participate in coaching, one-on-one training, workshops, and activities to support obtaining a Child Development Associate credential through the EHS-CC Partnership.
  • The partnerships supported quality improvement in the learning environment through individualizing services for infants, toddlers and families; using an early childhood education curriculum; and providing a variety of materials and supplies to support safe and stimulating environments.

Methods

This brief draws on national descriptive study data gathered from three sources:

  1. A web-based survey of the 250 EHS Expansion and EHS-CC Partnership grantees that received funding in 2015 for EHS-CC Partnerships. Data were collected following the first year of implementation, approximately 12 to 18 months after receiving the grant.
  2. A web-based survey of a sample of 470 child care partners, including child care center directors and family child care providers.
  3. In-depth data from case studies of 10 EHS-CC Partnerships that varied in their characteristics and approaches to implementation. The case studies, which were conducted in 2017, included in-person and telephone interviews with EHS and child care partner directors, other key partnership staff, parents, and state and local stakeholders (such as child care administrators and child care resource and referral agency staff).

This brief includes results for the 220 grantees and 386 child care partners with completed web-based surveys, as well as data collected as part of the case studies.

Citation

Del Grosso, P., Thomas, J., Fung, N., Levere, M., & Albanese, S. (2020). Partnering to Improve the Quality of Infant-Toddler Care: Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, OPRE Report # 2020-71, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

EHS partner:
Organization that received an EHS-CC Partnership grant award in 2015
Child care partner:
Child care center or family child care home that partners with a grantee or delegate agency to provide services to enrolled infants and toddlers
Partnership:
The formal relationship between an EHS program and a child care center or family child care home to provide program services to enrolled infants and toddlers.
EHS-CC Partnerships (Partnerships):
EHS partner and all of the child care partners that work together to provide services to enrolled families and their infants and toddlers.
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