Family-Provider Partnerships: Examining Alignment of Early Care and Education Professional and Performance Standards, State Competencies, and Quality Rating and Improvement Systems Indicators in the Context of Research

Publication Date:

February 13, 2014

Interest in the quality of provider-family relationships in early care and education (ECE) settings has increased during the past several years. Research has demonstrated that families have a much greater influence on their children’s positive outcomes than participation in ECE. Evidence from a variety of studies indicates that the magnitude of the association between participation in high quality child care and child outcomes varies. This suggests that traditional child-focused measures of child care quality may be missing aspects of quality that contribute to positive child outcomes. A small body of research suggests that strong partnerships between providers and families are associated with positive outcomes for children as well as positive outcomes for parents. This interest has sharpened the focus on defining and measuring elements of these relationships across ECE settings for program improvement purposes.

There has also been a growing interest in better preparing providers for their work with families. Many state professional development systems (PDS) include building partnerships with families as a competency area. PDS often rely on national and/or accreditation standards to inform these competencies. These accreditation standards are also commonly used as the highest rating for family partnership indicators in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). Although there has been some research on the issue of alignment across professional standards, PDS ECE competencies, and QRIS indicators,11 little attention has been paid to alignment in the area of provider partnerships with families.

This brief aims to explore the alignment across professional standards, PDS ECE competencies, and QRIS indicators. This is accomplished by identifying the areas in which there are consistent definitions across standards, competencies, and indicators regarding elements of quality in family-provider relationships. Specifically, this brief seeks to answer the following questions:

  • How do existing ECE professional and performance standards align with research-based elements of
    provider-family relationships that are associated with positive child and family outcomes?
  • What are some of the gaps in alignment across professional and performance standards and researchbased elements of provider-family partnerships?
  • What are some promising examples of language in the professional and performance standards, state PDS competencies, and QRIS indicators that could be used to fill the gaps in alignment in the professional and performance standards?

The findings from this brief serve as a starting point for building consensus across systems about common definitions, expectations about what providers need to know and do, and the development of measures that more closely capture quality in this domain.