Early Childhood Development: Three Things Experts Agree on about Outcomes, Quality, and Costs

| February 9, 2015

February 02, 2015 • Brookings Institute

The science of child development tells us that, for early childhood interventions, what matters is “process quality.” Process quality is not concerned with the quality of the facilities where children are given care, or the types of university degrees that their caregivers have. Rather, process quality focuses on how interactions occur in the caregiving setting, and on how curriculum is implemented.

Multiple studies show that for children, a rich learning environment is one where they experience interactions that are responsive, warm, sensitive to their perspectives, and plentiful in language. The quality of interactions in the caregiving setting plays a crucial role in allowing young children to explore, learn, and ultimately to reach their potential.

Although this seems quite intuitive, parents often may not be thinking of these factors as the guiding criteria when selecting a childcare center. Instead, parents might favor convenience—for example, being located on a parent’s commute—when they know less about how to assess the process aspects of quality and how important it is for their young children.

Even worse, in many places of the world, process quality is not even a major consideration when policymakers make decisions on the funding of public childcare or preschool programs.

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Category: Child Welfare, Education

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