Teacher, Center, and Neighborhood Characteristics Associated with Variations in Preschool Quality in Childcare Centers

Abstract

Background

Childcare programs serving preschool children are generally of poorer quality than publicly-funded preschools both in terms of their classroom processes and structural features. Research on childcare programs has typically collapsed them into a single group, yet these programs vary greatly in neighborhood disadvantage and organization as they are managed by for-profit chains, non-profit community organizations, faith-based organizations, or individual owners. Little is known about variations in childcare program quality and what factors are associated with quality.

Objective

The current study utilized latent profile analysis (LPA) with classroom process, structural features, and neighborhood disadvantage indicators to identify patterns of quality and neighborhood disadvantage within a diverse sample of childcare programs serving preschool children.

Methods

Classroom processes (instructional support, emotional support, classroom management, positive discipline) and structural features (teacher age, experience, education, and satisfaction) data was collected from preschool teachers (N = 127) from 76 childcare programs. Neighborhood disadvantage (median income; rates of unemployment, single parents, and education) was measured using census tract data.

Results

LPA indicated two profiles of childcare programs with high-quality classroom processes and two with poorer processes. Both of the high-quality profiles were in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and the two low-quality profiles were in more affluent neighborhoods. Subsequent analyses suggested quality covaried with management type with the lowest quality centers often run by for-profit chains.

Conclusions

Connections between classroom processes, structural features, and neighborhood disadvantage are complex making it extremely challenging for parents to identify high-quality care for their children.

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Fig. 1

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Acknowledgements

Appreciation is expressed to the child-care centers and teachers who participated in this study and the research staff who supported the data collection. The first author was supported by awards P50 DA010075 and T32 DA017629 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The project was supported by R01 HD079410 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

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Bayly, B.L., Bierman, K.L. & Jacobson, L. Teacher, Center, and Neighborhood Characteristics Associated with Variations in Preschool Quality in Childcare Centers. Child Youth Care Forum (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-021-09599-0

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Keywords

  • Early childhood education
  • Childcare program quality
  • Neighborhood disadvantage
  • Latent profile analysis