The Relationship Between Measures of Infant-Toddler Child Care Quality and Children's Developmental Outcomes: An Analysis of Data from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project
Jones, Christopher Hilton
Morrison, Donna R
Several first-rate early care and education programs have led to substantive, long-term gains in outcomes for children from disadvantaged families. Yet in other settings, widely used instruments for rating the quality of care show only modest associations with child outcomes. Using data from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project, the present study extends previous work by using multiple measures of child care quality and by examining additional cognitive, academic, and social-emotional outcomes from the evaluation's long-term follow-up, when participating children were in grade 5. Measures of quality of care had significant, favorable relationships with a measure of language development at 36 months and an index of success on cognitive/academic outcomes at grade 5. Relationships with the other outcomes were not significant, but several were favorable with effect sizes that were small but on par with findings from other research. Alternative measures of quality did not generally show stronger relationships with outcomes, except for a subscale of one measure, which focused on the physical features and learning activities in the care setting. Additional specifications of the relationship between quality and outcomes did not find consistent evidence for an alternative to a linear model. Results should be interpreted with caution due to potential selection effects. Future research should explore the extent to which the findings from this study and others occur because there is only a small relationship between quality and outcomes, compared to the extent to which they occur because existing instruments do not accurately measure quality.
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