Quality for Whom? Supporting Diverse Children and Workers in Early Childhood Quality Rating and Improvement Systems
With more immigrants and refugees settling outside the handful of states that were traditionally home to most newcomers, children with foreign-born parents now make up more than 10 percent of the young child population (ages 0 to 5) in a majority of states. For these children, finding high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) that is responsive to their needs and attuned to their cultural background can be the key to early language and literacy development, exposure to U.S. culture and norms, and future academic success.
Over the last 20 years, most states have begun to develop and refine Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) to classify early childhood services along a continuum of quality and to support program improvement. Yet immigrant and refugee workers, who make up 18 percent of the early childhood workforce and bring in-demand linguistic and cultural skills to the field, may face barriers to participation and achievement of a high rating in these systems. QRIS presume a level of English proficiency, financial resources, and systems knowledge, and may thus unfairly penalize providers for cultural differences or challenges unrelated to program quality.
This report examines how diverse providers access QRIS and the processes built around them, what indicators can be used to better capture program elements that are valuable to immigrant and refugee families, and how the rollout of QRIS in different states has affected these communities. Drawing on interviews with practitioners and examples of best practice from across the country, it offers state decisionmakers a range of strategies that can be used to ensure QRIS are accessible, fair, and more accurately capture and value program elements needed to effectively serve culturally and linguistically diverse children and families.
Overview of QRIS Function and Design
II. QRIS Indicators that Support Diversity
A. Examples of Diversity-Related Indicators
B. Establishing Evidence of Practice
C. How Valid Are QRIS Overall for CLD Providers and Families?
A. Inclusive Outreach to and Enrollment of Practitioners
B. Linguistically and Culturally Relevant Technical Assistance and Professional Development
C. Ongoing Stakeholder Engagement
IV. Conclusion and Recommendations