Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Darragh Callahan


Wisconsin's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) was implemented in 2010 to improve quality of care for young children enrolled in childcare programs. Due to the recent initiation of the state's QRIS, empirical evidence on the effectiveness of the initiative to improve quality care for young children is limited. This qualitative case study explores childcare stakeholders' perceptions on the effectiveness of Wisconsin's QRIS as a quality improvement program. Bronfenbrenner theorized that exosystems such as state governments impact early childhood environments and the development of young children through initiation of programs. The research questions address the efficiency of the state's QRIS and the effects of the program on children, parents, and providers. Data sources included interviews exploring stakeholders' perceptions (n = 8), analysis of documents, and observations of childcare teachers (n = 2) for substantiation of effects. Using NVivo to aid in coding and theme development, the data showed that childcare stakeholders had positive and negative viewpoints on the expectations and effectiveness of the QRIS. Stakeholders acknowledged that the initiative enhanced the quality of programming for young children. Due to increased formal education requirements for caregivers and classroom expectations, the participants responded negatively about the effects of the QRIS on childcare staff. To improve the state's QRIS, stakeholders suggested that all state licensed childcare providers be mandated to participate, formal raters assess the quality in accredited and city certified childcare programs, and frequent communications between officials to eliminate misinformation. The recommendations may help the initiative operate more efficiently and effectively, thereby improving the quality in childcare programs and enhancing the development of young children.