As more parents enter the labor force, the number of young children in the care of early child care and education (ECE) centers has increased. High-quality ECEs centers can produce significant impacts on social and cognitive development. CFRP studies the link between ECE centers and providers and outcomes of the children in their care.
Many high-quality early care and education (ECE) providers earn poverty-level wages and may not be able to afford adequate housing, food, or healthcare. In addition, more than one-third of ECE providers are enrolled in some form of public assistance program, most commonly health insurance and SNAP. Research studies on the quality of ECE workforce have traditionally defined workforce quality in terms of provider education/training, job satisfaction, and job turnover. However, little is known about how the health of the providers themselves contributes to the quality of the ECE workforce, and in turn, to the quality of the ECE settings in which they work. CFRP is working with colleagues at the University of Washington-Seattle to examine how changes in wages might affect the culture of health in ECE settings and the families and children they serve. The study is part of Evidence for Action (E4A), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
A key indicator of the quality of child care centers is the child to caregiver ratio – the maximum number of children that one caregiver can be responsible for in a child care setting. Currently, the Child Care Licensing (CLL) division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services annually collects data and reports only if a child care center has violated the required ratio standard. However in June 2016, Collaborative for Children, Children’s Learning Institute, and the Child and Family Research Partnership worked with CLL to collect actual ratio data to understand the impact of child care ratios on child safety. Preliminary analyses of the ratio data collected for the study show that when all classrooms in child care settings are better than the minimum standard, children are safer.