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How Can Public Policy Improve Quality of Early Care and Education?

Authors
  • Huston, Aletha C.1
  • 1 University of Texas at Austin, Department of Human Ecology, 1 University Place A2700, Austin, TX, 78712-0141, USA , Austin (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy
Publisher
Springer Singapore
Publication Date
May 01, 2008
Volume
2
Issue
1
Pages
1–14
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/2288-6729-2-1-1
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

The major purpose of this paper is to suggest ways that public policy can improve the quality of child care and early education for children from infancy to school age. Quality can be defined by such structural features as group composition, caregiver qualifications, and health and safety practices, and by such process indicators as sensitive, responsive, stimulating activities and interactions. Both predict children’s development. Among the structural indicators, specific training in early education is the most consistent predictor of children’s development, but small ratios and group sizes may also be important, especially for infants and toddlers. Early care and education policies in the U.S. have two means of affecting quality: providing funds and regulation or setting standards. When government agencies fund programs directly, they can hold the programs to structural and process quality standards. Regulations and standards can affect quality largely by dictating such structural features as teacher qualifications, child-to-adult ratios, and group sizes. Quality in all programs for young children can be enhanced by integrating child care and early education into a single system of early education and care.

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