Be Child Care Aware: Evaluation Of Child Care Environment Important Component Of Louisiana’s New Quality Rating System

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  5/9/2007 9:05:44 PM

News You Can Use Distributed 05/09/07

The creators of Louisiana’s Quality Rating System chose four criteria on which to evaluate the state’s child care centers – administration practices, family and community involvement, staff qualifications and programs.

"These criteria have been documented by researchers to be related to child care quality," explains LSU AgCenter child care instructor Cheri Gioe.

To evaluate the quality of a child care program, two nationally recognized instruments were chosen by Louisiana officials. Those are the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale-Revised Edition (ITERS-R) and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised Edition (ECERS-R).

"These instruments were designed for research, self-study, program improvement, monitoring and evaluation," Gioe explained. "Each of the scales is divided into subscales of areas that have been shown to be related to child care quality as well as positive outcomes for children."

For the purposes of the Louisiana Quality Rating System, observers will focus on the listening and talking subscale of the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale or the language/reasoning subscale of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale. They also will use the interaction subscale and the program structure subscale from both, according to officials.

"The listening/talking subscale, which will be used in relations to programs for infants and toddlers, includes items related to the informal use and understanding of language and the use of books and pictures," Gioe said, adding, "The language/reasoning subscale, for slightly older children, includes these items as well as encouraging children to communicate and use language to develop reasoning skills."

Similarly, the interaction subscale items focus on peer interaction, caregiver-child interaction, discipline and supervision of play and care activities, and the program structure subscale includes items related to the appropriateness of the daily schedule, play, group time and provisions for exceptional children.

"Observers will spend at least three hours observing in a percentage of classrooms in each child care center," Gioe explained of the implementation of these measures as part of Louisiana’s child care quality rating system.

Observers will rate items in the subscales from 1, which means inadequate, to 7, which is regarded as excellent.

"An average score will be determined using all classroom scores," Gioe said. "This score from the environment rating scale will be used in conjunction with information gathered about a center’s administration practices, family and community involvement and staff qualifications to determine an overall star rating for the center.

"These star ratings should serve as a guide to help parents in their search for quality child care."

The LSU AgCenter expert said participating in the quality rating system also will help child care centers with conducting self-studies and developing plans of action to improve child care quality.

"Ultimately, Louisiana’s young children and their families will benefit from attendance in high quality child care centers," Gioe said.

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

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Contacts: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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