Just before my daughter’s first day of pre-school, I was invited to participate in a home visit with her new teachers. On the day of the visit, both teachers arrived, with their arms literally wide open. After a round of hugs, they sat down in my living room and asked what my “hopes and dreams” were for my child’s education that year. They were not kidding. As I laid out each goal, they described the things I could do to help my daughter achieve them. They then discussed their families, their educational backgrounds, their interest in becoming teachers, and in turn, asked about our family and educational experiences. As we started my daughter’s first day of school with excitement and trepidation (all mine), I was grateful for the trust and confidence I had established in the teachers.
My experience is not isolated; many parents and families have strong relationships with their childcare provider or child’s teacher. We know now that high-quality relationships between parents and childcare providers and teachers can have a positive effect on parents, children, and families in several ways. However, until recently, we have not had comprehensive tools for measuring the quality of these relationships. Thanks to the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) project, there are five new measures that will allow us to do just that.
FPTRQ was a four-year effort, funded by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Head Start (OHS) and Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) with HHS, to develop measures of the quality of family and provider/teacher relationships in early care and education settings for children from birth through age five. The measures were developed by Westat and Child Trends, with additional guidance and advice from a group of experts. They’re applicable for all early care and education programs, including home care, center-based care, pre-k, and Head Start programs, and can be used by researchers, state and local administrators, program directors, and practitioners.
These five new measures include:
- The director measure is intended for use with program directors in center-based, family child care, and Head Start/Early Head Start settings for children from birth through five years old. This measure asks respondents general questions about the early childhood education environment, the children enrolled in the program, and how the program supports family and provider/teacher relationships.
- The provider/teacher measure is intended for early childhood education providers and teachers of children from birth through five years old in a center-based, family child care, or Head Start/Early Head Start program. This measure asks respondents general questions about how they work with parents of children in their care. The measure is available in English and Spanish.
- The parent measure is intended for parents of children birth through five years old who are cared for by providers or teachers in a center-based, family child care, or Head Start/Early Head Start program. The measure is available in English and Spanish, and it asks parents general questions about how they work with their child’s lead provider or teacher (not aides or assistant teachers).
- The FSS measure is for Head Start/Early Head Start Family Services Staff, referred to as Family Service Workers (FSWs) in the measure. It asks respondents questions about how they work with all parents of children in Head Start/Early Head Start programs. The measure is available in English and Spanish.
- The FSS parent measure is for parents to complete about the Head Start/Early Head Start FSS member (referred to as the Family Service Worker (FSW) in the measure) who serves their family. It asks parents questions about how they work with their FSW. The measure is available in English and Spanish. Both the FSS and the FSS parent measures are currently undergoing a pilot study.
All of the measures and scoring sheets can be downloaded from Child Trends’ and OPRE’s websites, free of charge. A few helpful notes on their use: It’s best to administer the parent and provider measures together in order to get a holistic view of relationship quality in a particular classroom or program. Besides the director measure, all of the measures are available in Spanish. Programs can add one or several of the other measures (i.e., director, FSS, and FSS parent) depending on their staffing and assessment needs. There are accompanying scoring sheets that automatically calculate results for all of the measures.
The five measures underwent a rigorous development process that included a literature review, focus groups, the creation of a conceptual model, recommendations from a group of experts, a pilot study, and several rounds of interviews with providers/teachers and parents to improve survey design, and for three of the measures, a field study. Read more about the development process in the User’s Manual. The measures are easy to use and administer and each takes about 10 minutes to complete.
The FPTRQ measures will help to improve our understanding of the role of relationship quality in early child care and education, and ultimately, may help to improve relationship quality between parents and providers/teachers.
Shelby Hickman, research analyst, with contributions from Eliza Brown, research assistant
 This project was sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Head Start and Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Contract No. HHSP23320095655WC. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Office of Head Start, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.