Resource Library

Promoting Quality in Programs for Infants and Toddlers: Comparisons Across Settings

Start Date November 2018 End Date March 2020
Keywords infants toddlers quality family child care center-based care


While cities and states across the country have been expanding pre-kindergarten programs, less attention has been paid to infant and toddler programs, which provide a critical service to low-income parents who must work under federal income-support programs. Given the importance of secure and responsive care in the first 3 years of life, the quality of infant and toddler programs deserves greater priority. Since the launch of the Early Learn initiative in 2012, NYC policymakers have sought to bolster the quality of its infant and toddler programs and align quality across diverse settings. The purpose of this study is to analyze the implementation of NYC’s efforts to enhance quality in two different care modalities for infants and toddlers: centers and licensed Family Child Care (FCC). We hypothesize that we will find variations in implementation that relate to differences in workforce capacity and conditions. We further hypothesize that some differences may be desirable, reflecting the varied strengths and needs of administrators and educators, while some differences may reflect inequities or challenges that policymakers would seek to overcome. The analyses will be guided by two research questions: 1) To what extent has the implementation of efforts to enhance quality in infant and toddler programs varied by formal care setting? 2) What administrator, educator, and program characteristics are associated with these differences? The study will render findings and actionable policy recommendations to inform policymakers who seek to improve and align quality among infant and toddler programs.


The proposed study will employ a mixed-methods design with quantitative and qualitative data. We will sample 80 sites, 40 centers and 40 FCC sites, to identify differences and similarities in their experience of the city’s quality-enhancement efforts. Data will be collected via two surveys (in English and Spanish), one for the administrator and one for an educator at each site. At FCC sites, the administrators and educator will likely be the same person; in those instances, we will administer a single survey that combines relevant questions for both. Each survey will contain a mix of close-ended and open-ended questions. Topic areas will include: 1) Administrator characteristics and well-being; 2) Educator characteristics and well-being; 3) Professional learning participation (e.g., type, frequency, match of content and needs, and effect on practice); and 4) Program characteristics. Open-ended responses will be coded for analysis and data will be analyzed to identify statistically significant differences between center-based and FCC settings. 


Jeanne L. Reid, Ed.D.; Research Scientist, National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University

Sharon Lynn Kagan, Ed.D.; Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor and Co-Director, National Center for Children and Families,  Teachers College, Columbia University

Samantha Melvin, M.A.; National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D.; Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor and Co-Director, National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University

Contributing Institutions

National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University


Authored December 2019

Jeanne L. Reid, Samantha A. Melvin, Sharon Lynn Kagan, & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

Institutions National Center for Children and Families
Type Presentation

This poster was shared at the New York City Early Childhood Research Network Research symposium on December 6, 2019. The poster previews background information and insights from the study of Enhancing the Quality of Infant and Toddler Care in New York City: Variation Across Formal Care Settings.