Defining quality: Do child care providers' beliefs support the research regarding quality?
Hall, Larissa Kathleen
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Child care is an important aspect of American life. Many children receive non-parental child care on a daily basis. Unfortunately, much of the care that is currently available is of poor to mediocre quality. Research has identified structural and process factors that lead to quality, including low numbers of children being cared for by a single caregiver, low group sizes, and caregivers who have received child-specific training and education. Recent research has begun to focus on the role of the child care provider; however, many questions remain unanswered. A specific gap in the literature is that few studies have given child care providers a voice. Studies have included these individuals as factors that contribute to quality, yet few have spoken directly to providers about their beliefs concerning quality and their role in the production of quality. To date, no study has asked the child care provider to articulate his or her definition of quality child care, while also sharing his or her beliefs about factors associated with quality child care. The current study will do just that. Findings from this study emphasize the role that these providers play in the child care classroom and the fact that providers have definite ideas as to what constitutes quality child care. They are very much aware of the importance of quality and the impact that they themselves have. These findings have the potential to add to the field of early care and education by providing additional information as to factors that affect quality, including staff training, ratios of children to caregivers, and structural elements of the child care program.