Doherty, G. (in press). Quality in family child care: A focus group study with Canadian Providers. Early Childhood Education Journal.

  • University of Guelph(Retired)
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A substantial proportion of American, Canadian and English preschoolers regularly participate in family child care making its quality of vital importance for the children concerned, their parents, the school system and the society in which they live. This article discusses the seven key caregiver behaviors and physical space characteristics identified as essential for quality by 62 providers who participated in 12 focus groups across Canada, their views on what is required to support and enhance family child care and the published research on the effectiveness of their suggested supports. In addition, the findings of a survey of 581 providers in different parts of England that also sought provider views about the physical space and caregiver behaviors essential for quality programs are identified and the significant concurrence between the opinions of the two groups discussed. The article ends with a discussion of the policy and practice implications that arise the study's findings and some ideas on how best to move forward in assisting family child care providers to supports children's development.

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... This finding could have applied to the implementation of practices that support children's play in our study because HCPs originated from a more diverse educational background than the ECEs. In a study conducted by Doherty (2015), when 52 Canadian HCPs were asked about the essential components of a quality home child care setting, they noted the following factors: (a) emotional safety and well-being are protected, (b) the provider is affectionate and supportive of each child, (c) the provider–parent relationship is collaborative and professional, (d) the setting looks and acts similar to a family home, (e) the home and neighborhood are used as learning opportunities, (f) the presence of a mixed-age group is used as a learning opportunity and (g) the provider successfully addresses the challenges inherent in the occupation. There were few references to children's play and none that related to a setting that sustains child development and learning through play. ...
This study examined and compared the extent to which early childhood educators’ (ECEs) and home childcare providers’ (HCPs) practices supported children’s play. The sample included 50 ECEs and 20 HCPs in settings that care for 70 children at 18, 24, and 36 months old. At each time point, the childcare process quality was observed using the Educational Quality Observation Scales. Cross-sectional descriptive analysis revealed unsatisfactory scores on items that comprise the ‘Adult’s practices that support children’s play’ subscale. The item ‘respects children’s play’ was the only exception, with scores in the satisfactory range. In addition, compared to HCPs, ECEs obtained higher scores. This study suggests that although ECEs and HCPs generally respected children’s play, their interventions did not extend further to sustain play. There is a need to improve ECEs’ and HCPs’ practices to sustain young children’s development and learning during play.
Recent policy reports have raised concerns about quality education and care for under 2-year-olds attending home-based early childhood and care (HBEC) services, an issue that has received minimal research attention in Aotearoa New Zealand. This article explores what is meant by "quality" in HBEC for children under two using an ecological framework, drawing on the perspectives of various stakeholders, outlining implications for future policy and practice. Four semi-structured focus group interviews elicited stakeholders' views of quality. The four groups were: experts; service providers/visiting teachers; educators/nannies; parents/wha¯nau. The participants identified key aspects of the roles, relationships and activities of the different actors within quality HBEC microsystems, as well as the critical importance of mesosystem connections. Relationships at all levels were identified as a key component of quality, supporting a principle underpinning the philosophy and framework of Te Wha¯riki.
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