Home-based family child care is a popular, flexible, and convenient option, especially for low-income working parents. However, studies find that the quality of care in these settings is often is mediocre to poor.
Networks or organizations that offer ongoing support, training, and monitoring to low-income family child care providers have the potential to improve the quality of care offered to children and families. Yet little information existed regarding how support network programs affect the quality of family child care or what it is that networks do that increases quality of care in affiliated providers’ homes.
This study analyzed the impact of family child care support networks established by a range of independent organizations in Chicago to improve the quality of care. Led by Herr Research Center research scientist Juliet Bromer, the study examined the relationship between affiliation with a family child care support organization and quality of care that children received.
The study included 150 licensed family child care providers. To isolate the effect of network affiliation on quality of care, the study used a “matched-control” design. The study included a control group of unaffiliated providers who share a predetermined set of characteristics matched to network-affiliated providers. Network-affiliated providers were also compared to caregivers affiliated exclusively with voluntary provider associations.
The study used in-person interviews with network and association staff and telephone surveys with family child care providers to learn about network-generated support services, education, training and oversight. To measure quality of care in family child care homes, trained observers visited providers’ homes, using the Harms-Clifford Family Day Care Rating Scale (FDCRS) and the Arnett Caregiver Interaction Scale (CIS).
This study was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and conducted under the guidance and support of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which focuses on comprehensive community development. The University of Chicago Survey Lab collected and analyzed data for this study.