Early Childhood Education Quality and Family Engagement
Herbst, Lisa Buchy
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Empirical literature demonstrates that the quality of early childhood education (ECE) impacts children’s learning in multiple domains. Quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs), which are active in nearly every state, are designed to rate the quality of ECE programs, encourage programs to improve quality, and help families make more informed enrollment decisions. However, many families are unaware of QRISs and MD EXCELS (Maryland’s QRIS) in particular. This research study examined survey data to understand family perceptions of ECE quality and awareness of MD EXCELS. Based on these data and a review of literature, a YouTube video was implemented to increase family awareness of ECE quality and MD EXCELS and build family capacity to engage as choosers of education options. Analysis of quantitative and qualitative data suggests the YouTube video positively impacted family awareness of MD EXCELS and may have increased the likelihood that families will use quality ratings when making a future ECE enrollment decision. Qualitative data collected indicate that augmenting family decision-making models to include the effect of emotion on decisions may better represent the complexity of ECE enrollment decisions and may be useful to inform future family outreach and engagement efforts.