The process of revision drew on four main sources of information: (1) research on development in the early and school years and findings related to the impact of child care environments on children’s health and development; (2) a content comparison of the original FDCRS with other assessment instruments designed for similar age groups and settings, and additional documents describing aspects of family child care program quality; (3) feedback from FDCRS users, solicited through a questionnaire that was circulated and also put on our website as well as suggestions given to us as we talked with the many people who use the FDCRS; and (4) intensive use over the years, and across states and countries, by the FCCERS-R co-authors and their team of associates at the Frank Porter Graham Child development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The data from studies of family child care program quality using the FDCRS gave us information about the range of scores on various items, the relative difficulty of items, and their validity. The content comparison helped us to identify items to consider for addition or deletion. By far the most helpful guidance for the revision was the feedback from direct use in the field. Colleagues from the US, Canada, and Europe who had used the FDCRS in research, monitoring, and program improvement gave us valuable suggestions based on their experience with the scale. Using input from focus groups that were convened during the revisions of the ECERS and ITERS, we were able to consider what was needed to make the revised FCCERS-R more sensitive to issues of inclusion and diversity.
Changes in the FCCERS-R
While retaining the basic similarities in format and content that provide continuity between the FDCRS and FCCERS–R, the following changes were made to bring the scale in line with the other revised editions in the Environment Rating Scale (ERS) series:
1. The title of the scale was changed to represent the current term for this type of care. Instead of “family day care,” the term family child care is used.
2. The indicators under each level of quality in an item were numbered so that they could be given a score of “Yes,” “No,” or “Not Applicable” (NA) on the scoresheet. This makes it possible to be more exact in reflecting observed strengths and weaknesses in an item.
3. Each item is printed on a separate page, followed by the Notes for Clarification.
4. Sample questions are included for indicators that are difficult to observe.
5. Negative indicators on the minimal level were removed and are now found only in the 1 (inadequate) level. In levels 3 (minimal), 5 (good), and 7 (excellent) only indicators of positive attributes are listed.
6. The Notes for Clarification have been expanded to give additional information to improve accuracy in scoring and to explain the intent of specific items and indicators.
7. Indicators and examples were added throughout the scale to make the items more inclusive. The subscale “FDCRS Supplementary Items: Provisions for Exceptional Children” was dropped. This follows the advice given to us by scale users to include indicators and examples in the scale instead of adding a separate subscale for children with disabilities.
8. Indicators and items were rewritten to be more culturally sensitive. The observer must note, however, that indicators for quality hold true across a diversity of cultures and individuals, although the ways in which they are expressed may differ. Whatever the personal styles of the provider being observed, the requirements of the indicators must be met, although there can be some variation in the way this is done.
9. Items that had two parts, “a” for infants/toddlers and “b” for older children were dropped, and new items were constructed to meet the needs of all age groups.
10. Items were added to or removed from all subscales including the following:
- Space and Furnishings: Item 1. Indoor space used for child care was added, and Item 6. Space for privacy replaced FDCRS Item 6 a and b. Space to be alone.
- Personal Care Routines: Item 11. Health practices was added, and FDCRS Item 11, Personal grooming was removed.
- Listening and Talking: Items 13. Helping children understand language, and 14. Helping children use language were completely revised. Item 15. Using books was added. FDCRS items removed included 14 a. & b. Informal use of language, and 17. Helping children reason (using concepts).
- Activities: Items 21. Math/number and 22. Nature/science were added.
- Interaction subscale replaced FDCRS Social Development subscale, with revised FDCRS item 26, now Item 27. Supervision of play and learning. The FDCRS Item 27. Tone was replaced with a revised Item 28. Provider-child interaction, and Item 30. Interactions among children.
- Program Structure subscale was added, and contains a revised FDCRS Item 25, now Item 31. Schedule and new Items 32. Free play and 33. Group time.
- Parents and Provider: New Item 38. Provisions for professional needs was added.
11. Many remaining FDCRS items were changed significantly, including Helping children use language, Art, Use of TV, video, and/or computer, Schedule, Adaptations for special needs, and Relationships with parents.
12. The scaling of some of the items in the subscale Personal Care Routines was made more gradual to better reflect varying levels of health practices in real life situations.