We recently had the privilege of hosting a meeting of renowned international experts in early childcare service quality at the IDB’s office in Washington, DC, to discuss childcare quality for children ages 0-3.
The group reflected on two topics that frequently come up in discussions with programs that offer childcare services in the region. Which factors define childcare service quality? And, how can we measure and monitor them?
The dialogue was too rich to fully summarize in this small space. So instead, I’ll just comment on one topic that was the focus of a panel discussion. The experts agreed on the importance of high-quality interactions between children and their caregivers, particularly for the 0-3 age group. Several points were raised that are worth sharing:
- Studies of interactions between children ages 0-3 and their caregivers have found that they are far too infrequent.
- Most childcare centers do not put enough emphasis on ensuring consistency in interactions, such that children always interact with the same adult.
- Individualized care is critically important for this age-group; but instead, providers tend to relate to children in groups or classes (as in a school setting).
- Some of the characteristics of high-quality interactions include: warmth; sufficient frequency and engagement; inclusiveness, meaning that every child is involved; plenty of verbal communication; and minimal interruptions or distractions when children are exploring their environment.