Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Ann M. Berghout Austin


Ann M. Berghout Austin


Kay Bradford


Shelley L. Knudsen Lindauer


Kathleen Walsh Piercy


Derrik Tollefson


High quality infant and toddler (IT) child care has repeatedly been linked to better outcomes for children. However, in the U.S., IT child care has also been plagued by poor quality. Using a mixed-methods design, the purpose of this study was to provide an in-depth explanation of quality change in IT classrooms and the myriad of factors that contribute to higher quality. Framed in an ecological model that views quality as the product and interaction of process, structural, and caregiver characteristics, this study addressed the impact of a variety of variables on quality change. The sample was comprised of 86 classrooms nested within 48 centers that participated in Baby Steps, a quality improvement project administered by the Utah Office of Child Care. Quantitative data included ITERS-R scores, wages, turnover, capacity, geographic location, and parent fees collected between 2003 and 2010 as part of the Baby Steps Project. Seven center directors completed semi-structured interviews that provided an insider perspective on their perceptions of the barriers and contributors to improved quality. A mixed model analysis was used to examine quality change over time. Results indicate that classroom quality scores (as measured by the ITERS-R) did increase by the second year of participation in Baby Steps; however, subsequent years of participation did not lead to significantly higher scores. Specialized training also appears to contribute to higher quality but high turnover was associated with lower quality programs. Non-urban programs appeared to be especially receptive to the intervention. Center directors echoed these findings and spoke to the



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