This project consists of two components, one focused on program quality comparing programs enrolled in Maine's Quality Rating System (QRS) to those not enrolled. The other component is focused on use of child level assessment information to improve program quality. The purpose of the first component is to increase knowledge about improvements to program quality over time considering influences due to enrollment in the Maine Quality Rating System (QRS). Programs enrolled in the QRS receive additional supports than those programs not enrolled in the QRS. This study component also includes a focus on a set of programs enrolled in the QRS and contracted by the state DHHS to provide child care services to low-income working parents. Baseline data was collected in 2009 and follow-up data is being collected in 2011. The aim of the second study component is to explore the kinds of approaches to assessments that are used with infants and toddlers in higher quality programs. Authentic child level assessment is a standard in the QRS and this case study research will increase knowledge about how this standard is being met and or what barriers exist to meeting this standard. The research questions are: (1) What are the differences in program quality between child care programs enrolled in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Quality Rating System (QRS) and child care programs not enrolled in the Maine DHHS Quality Rating System?; (2) What is the impact of federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) quality funding and subsequent supports on improving the quality of care available to and utilized by low-income working parents through contracted child care sites?; and (3) How are individual programs that serve infants and toddlers meeting the authentic assessment standard of the Quality for ME system?
Administration for Children and Families/OPRE Projects