This 26-item measure yields three scores (sensitivity-warm, attentive, engaged; harshness-critical, punitive; detachment-low levels of interaction, interest, or supervision) which are combined to create an overall caregiver quality score. The ratings are made after two 45-minute observations conducted on two separate occasions by two separate observers.
Detecting relations between process quality and child outcomes requires robust measures
The Assessment Profile Discover More Here (Abbott-Shim Sibley, 1992a, 1992b) assesses different aspects of quality, namely features related to health and safety, physical facilities, and individualized child services. Different forms of the instrument are available for child care homes and centers. These forms list individual items that are viewed as exemplars of (a) healthy, safe settings, (b) rich physical environments, and (c) settings that meet the needs of adult staff. Individual items are scored using a yes/no format, with “yes” designating items that were either observed or reported by staff. These items can be scored reliably (see NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1996). Caregivers have been observed to offer more positive caregiving in settings that receive higher Profile scores (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1996, in press-a).
The CC-HOME Inventory is a measure of process quality that uses a checklist approach to create a quality score across multiple domains, including the health and safety of the physical environment, variety of experiences, and materials (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1996). Derived from Bradley and Caldwell’s well-known assessment of the quality of the home environment, 45 items are scored on a yes/no basis and then summed (alpha = .81). In one study, children who attended better-quality child care homes as measured by the CC-HOME Inventory obtained higher Bayley scores at 24 months and higher school readiness and language comprehension scores at 36 months, in comparison to children who attended poorer-quality child care homes (Clarke-Stewart, Vandell, Burchinal, O’Brien, and McCartney, 2000).
Other measures have been less successful in providing reliable and valid assessments of process quality. For example, Lamb and colleagues failed to find concurrent associations between child care quality and child functioning in their study of child care in Sweden (Broberg, Hwang, Lamb, and Bookstein, 1990). One factor that likely contributed to the lack of significant relations was problems with their quality measure. The Belsky-Walker Checklist (Broberg et al., 1990) asks observers to check off if 13 positive events (e.g., caregiver provided verbal elaboration, caregiver gives heightened emotional display; signs of positive regard ) and 7 negative events (e.g., child cries; child aimless; caregivers in non-child conversations) occur at least once during 3-minute observation intervals. This 3-minute time observation frame was substantially longer than the 10- to 30-second intervals recommended for recording social interactions (Yarrow and Zahn-Waxler, 1979). Consequently, the checklist may have failed to detect meaningful distinctions in caregiver behavior because the time interval was too long to detect meaningful differences. This checklist underscores the challenge of designing and assessing process quality.
Structural and Caregiver Characteristics
A second approach to describing child care quality is in terms of their structural and caregiver characteristics. Characteristics such as child:adult ratio, group class size, caregiver formal education, and caregiver specialized training are viewed as more distal contributors to quality environments. Structural and caregiver characteristics are the only quality indicators obtained in survey studies such as the National Child Care Survey (Hofferth, Brayfield, Deich, and Holcomb, 1991), the National Household Education Survey (Hofferth et al., 1998), and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (Blau, 1999-c). Structural and caregiver characteristics have been collected in addition to process-oriented measures in studies such as the Cost, Quality and Outcome Study, thereby permitting relations between these characteristics and process quality to be evaluated.