Reflections on Quality Child CareAs a concerned child-care...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 27, 1995

Reflections on Quality Child Care

As a concerned child-care provider in an organization that is dedicated to children, I would like to address some of the issues and concerns that recently have been brought forth by the results of the recent Cost, Quality, and Child Care Centers study.

I have very mixed reactions to this study -- both concerned and very positive. An overall rating of mediocre quality is of concern when we are looking at the future of America.

We have known that the quality of care across the board nationwide is not what we'd like it to be. However, there are systems in place that will help to improve the quality of care if providers dedicate the time and resources . . .

We know that many states provide only minimum regulations to ensure safety and health of children in group settings.

These cannot be the only standards we adhere to if we want to ensure school success for every child in our care.

In fact, many early-childhood providers voluntarily improve these standards on their own. It is important to note that accredited centers in this study provided higher quality than the non-accredited centers.

One of the most pro-active recommendations from the study was, "Encourage centers to seek and maintain voluntary professional center accreditation based on high standards." The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) implemented just such an accreditation system 10 years ago to help improve quality in child-care centers.

A positive finding in this study is that there was no statistical difference in quality between for-profit and not-for-profit centers.

Studies in the past have shown different results, and we are proud and enthusiastic about the move toward quality in both for-profit and non-profit centers.

And since this study actually showed non-profit centers that are exempt from licensing standards have the lowest level of quality among all centers, we support the strategy of eliminating all exemption from state licensing standards.

In fact, we would encourage all providers to raise the bar of quality and voluntarily aspire toward accreditation to improve the quality of their programs.

The numerical rating across the board of all 400 programs that were observed in this study shows a middle of the road level of quality.

But to get to that mediocre level, there must have been both highs and lows. This kind of research actually shows us that when you look at the complete range of centers in this study . . . our overall average as a country isn't very high.

That's why it is so critical to have more quality-based standards. If we have them, everyone is held to the same level of quality for young children -- and our children deserve this kind of quality.

Finally, "Parents greatly over-estimate the quality of child care" was one of the disappointing quotes that came out of this study.

It's important to understand that parents look at quality differently than an educator or a researcher would.

Parents' view of quality often includes the relationship with the teacher and/or director, and they look at the quality of their child's experience based on how the child is feeling when he/she comes home. These relationships are very important to both parents and children.

Researchers and educators take into consideration a variety of in-depth criteria when measuring quality; so, from a researcher's point of view, it's pretty easy to summarize that parents over-estimate the quality.

Parents make their child-care choices based on a variety of reasons, including cost, location and the environment and quality of program.

Parents should not become disillusioned by this study and begin to believe that quality child care centers do not exist, because they do.

The most important way that parents are going to find quality care is to first understand what to look for.

NAEYC puts out a brochure that describes what quality care is and Children's World has made available to parents a quality checklist on what to look for in a quality environment.

To a parent whose child is happy, who likes the director and the care-giver and is really seeing that child grow and thrive -- that child is in a quality environment . . .

Mary Terrass

Baltimore

The writer is regional manager, Baltimore/Washington, of Children's World Learning Centers.

Plight of the Islamic Movement

In the all-too familiar rhetoric of the supporters of the political status quo in the Middle East, Elaine Rosenbloom's letter, March 20, bundled Egyptian civil war with other bombings around the world.

It is awfully simplistic to suggest that Muslim fighters do not want to change the government peacefully. There is nothing peaceful about changing a dictatorship. There is no law to abide by, and no hope that the government can be changed without an armed struggle.

Muslim fighters in Egypt are waging a war against a dictatorship and a repressive system. Egypt is not fighting a war for its survival. The corrupt and unrepresentative regime of Hosni Mubarak is.

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