The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Step up to Quality: Stakeholder Perceptions of Ohio's Child Care Quality Rating System

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 11:45 AM
Nautilus 5 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Amber Moodie-Dyer, PHD, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Cynthia Buettner, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columubus, OH
Lieny Jeon, MS, Doctoral Student, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Purpose: High quality early care and education (ECE) has been documented to result in better child outcomes. Parents need more information about how to access quality ECE and programs need a path for improvement. Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) have recently been implemented for this purpose. Ohio’s QRIS, Step Up to Quality (SUTQ), is a three-star system operating since 2006. Scant information about QRIS exists in the literature, despite its importance. This information is critical to social work which helps families access child care, and responds to children in unsafe care. This study assessed stakeholder perceptions of the SUTQ and asks: (1) How do parents and teachers perceive SUTQ; (2) Are there differences between teachers and parents by star level; (3) How does SUTQ factor into parent choices; and (4) Are there differences in parents perceptions/use of SUTQ based on formal system use (Ohio’s Child Care Resource and Referral Association [OCCRRA]; Ohio Department of Job and Family Services [ODJFS]) to find care?

Methods: Surveys were distributed to gather feedback about SUTQ in Ohio from parents and teachers at SUTQ centers. Twenty-five percent of star rated centers were selected using stratified random sampling yielding 75 teachers (50 one star, 18 two star and 7 three star), 41% response rate; and 327 parents (231 one star, 65 two star and 31 three star), 36% response rate. Analysis includes descriptive statistics, as well as ANOVA, Fisher’s Exact test, t-tests, and chi-square analysis.

Results: Teacher and parent means were better than average regarding participation in SUTQ improving quality. Teachers and parents rated the importance of SUTQ benchmarks highly; 97% of teachers said they understood quality better; 50% felt that parents understood quality better after enrolling in an SUTQ program; 27% said that parents reported the SUTQ rating was important in choice-making. Location was the most important choice-making factor reported by parents, while star rating was the least. However, parents reported that SUTQ would be important in future decision making. Significant differences were found between teachers by star level: teachers in two and three star centers were more likely to report that parents used SUTQ when choosing care; teachers at three star programs had more years of experience. Significant results were found between users and non-users of formal resources: users reported greater importance of staff qualifications and administrative practices, and higher contribution of SUTQ in improvement of program quality; users were more likely to report that their center was star rated when they enrolled.

Implications: Findings reveal that assessment of SUTQ by parents and teachers was positive, but more awareness is needed about SUTQ and formal resources. Building awareness enables parents who may not use formal resource agencies to make more informed decisions. Future research could assess access to high quality settings and collect longitudinal data to understand how perceptions and use of QRIS change over time. As QRIS continues to evolve and expand in the United States, it is important to continue to monitor the changing nature of its influence on all stakeholders.