Date of Conferral







Grace Lappin


U.S. policy makers continue to struggle with identifying inclusive strategies that effectively support the needs of individual family child care (FCC) providers, who tend to have low quality rating improvement systems (QRIS) scores. To ensure program quality, there is a need to identify supportive strategies and evidence-based practices that build on FCC programs' strengths and learning contexts. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore the perspectives of FCC providers about the factors that contribute to the number of low-quality, low-tier rated FCC programs that are part of California’s QRIS initiative. The conceptual framework was based on Blasberg’s model for quality in home-based child care. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 current Quality Start California participants who were licensed operators of an FCC program in California. Participants responded to questions about the factors that contributed to the number of low-quality, low-tier rated programs, the challenges they experienced, and suggestions they had to improve program delivery. Data analysis involved open coding and categorization to identify patterns and themes. Results revealed that participants faced many challenges within the QRIS system. Individualized supports such as professional development opportunities, financial incentives, relational-based approaches, and parent engagement strategies may improve quality and tier ratings in FCC programs. This study may contribute to positive social change in the early care and education field by providing a better understanding of how FCC providers can be supported, which may help to improve the quality of care they provide to young children.