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Parental perceptions of quality in early care and education

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Cleveland, J., Susman-Stillman, A. & Halle, T.
Publication Date: 
30 Nov 2013


This brief summarizes findings from a study investigating how low-income parents perceive constructs of quality that are emerging in QRIS standards and quality improvement strategies, namely, developmentally appropriate practices, family sensitive caregiving practices, strategies to support children's social and emotional development, and cultural responsiveness. 


The 19 parents participating in this interview reported caregiver practices fostering developmentally appropriate interactions were most important to them when they consider quality in child care. Parents also identified the importance of practices to support social-emotional development, although slightly less so. Parents' values about these two constructs of early care and education quality mirror the public emphasis on children's development over the last 20 years, which has focused on promoting children's cognitive readiness for school throughout the majority of that time, and children's social-emotional readiness for school only more recently (Snow, 2011). While parent conceptions of school readiness are shifting towards a more integrative notion that recognizes the interdisciplinary nature of school readiness (see Gamble, et al., 2009; Forry & Wessel, 2012), current parent perceptions of quality in this study are still reflective of a somewhat greater emphasis on practices to support learning than practices to support social-emotional development and behavior, or the interplay between the two.