CARING FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN

Anne Meadows, Editor

Panel on Child Care Policy

Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy

Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1991



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Caring for America's Children CARING FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN Anne Meadows, Editor Panel on Child Care Policy Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1991

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Caring for America's Children NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this publication was provided by the Foundation for Child Development. The work of the Panel on Child Care Policy was supported by the Ford Foundation, the Foundation for Child Development, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 91-62647 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04580-0 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 S442 Printed in the United States of America

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Caring for America's Children CONTENTS Preface   v PART I THE PANEL'S WORK AND NEW FEDERAL LAW   1     Panel Findings: The Current State of Child Care   4     Panel Recommendations: Looking to the Future   5     New Federal Law   7 PART II IMPROVING QUALITY   13     Characteristics of Quality Child Care   16     Structural Aspects of Quality   18     Professional Guidelines for Quality   33     The Unfinished Agenda   37 Panel on Child Care Quality   41

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Caring for America's Children This page in the original is blank.

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Caring for America's Children PREFACE Over the past decade, child care has emerged as a critical issue with broad implications for the well-being of children, families, and society. During this period, the significant increase in the number of mothers in the labor force, the high cost of child care, and the growing recognition of the importance of a child's early experiences for future development have brought national attention to the child care debate. That debate has focused on three major areas: accessibility, affordability, and quality of care. At the same time, state and local governments have assumed greater responsibility for responding to child care needs and have become the primary regulators of quality. In 1987 the National Research Council's Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy convened a panel of experts from the fields of pediatrics, public policy, business, labor, education, child care delivery, child development, economics, and other social sciences to review the research and information about child care services and practices and to recommend how this knowledge could be applied to improve the nation's child care policies and programs. The panel's findings, conclusions, and recommendations were published in a 1990 National Research Council report, Who Cares for America's Children? Child Care Policy for the 1990s. Later that year Congress enacted legislation (P.L. 101-508) intended to reduce the numbers of children living in poverty, to improve the quality and accessibility of child care services, and to increase the availability of preschool education for children from low-income families. It authorizes $4 billion over a 5-year period for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program and child care grants under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. States will have wide discretion in using the block-grant funds for child care services. To receive funds, providers of

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Caring for America's Children child care services will have to meet state standards for quality, health, and safety. The new federal law reinforces state and local control in implementing child care policies and requires a renewed emphasis on upgrading the quality of services. In response to this development, state and local officials throughout the nation are setting or revising standards for child care programs. This publication is intended to provide information that may help those state and local officials, child care providers, and other interested individuals develop or implement standards for quality child care, operate high-quality child care programs, and monitor programs for quality. Parents may also find the information useful in evaluating the relative quality of different day care arrangements. Part I of this booklet summarizes the panel's findings and recommendations and describes how the new law relates to the panel's work. Part II describes the aspects of child care that determine its quality and provides information on state regulation of child care services and professional standards for early childhood programs. The information in this booklet is drawn from the report, Who Cares for America's Children?