Impact of Early Head Start and community child care partnerships on quality infant and toddler programming
Sixty-four child care partners and eight Early Head Start (EHS) grantees participated in the investigation of the impact of EHS and community child care partnerships on infant/toddler programming. The study investigated effect of center-based and home-based program participation on environment quality in infant/toddler programs, the effect of educational level on program participation related to perceptions of quality improvement, the effect of educational level on partner report of increased knowledge of infant/toddler development, and the effect of educational level on partner perceptions of usefulness of the Environmental Rating Scale (ERS). Quality was measured by the Infant/Toddler Environmental Rating Scale (ITERS), Family Day Care Rating Scale (FDCRS) and the Midwest Child Care Research Consortium Assets (ASSETS). Results of three paired sample t-test showed program improvements in overall (i.e., ASSETS) and center-based (i.e., ITERS) program environmental quality but not in home-based (i.e., FDCRS) programs. Results from three one way ANOVA analyses indicated educational level did not significantly alter child care teachers' responses to partnership-related improvements, knowledge of infant/toddler development, or usefulness of the ERS. Through qualitative analyses, child care partners indicated the greatest benefits of program participation included personal growth and increased information about child care, children, and families; community building among staff, parents, and other providers; program operational improvement related to sharing materials and educational and financial strategies; and educational growth through a variety of training activities. Greatest challenges centered primarily on being observed, meeting standards set by the partnership, and time constraints. Limitations of the study and recommendations for future research were discussed.