QRIS State Profile

This profile is from the Quality Compendium—a comprehensive resource for information about all of the QRIS operating in the U.S. and its Territories. It was developed by a partnership of the BUILD Initiative, the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, and Child Trends.

QRIS Resource Guide Examples

Approaches to Implementation

Indiana Implemented First QRIS at the Local Level

The following timeline highlights Indiana’s approach to launching its Paths to QUALITY QRIS:

  • The Paths to QUALITY initiative was launched in 2000 by the Early Childhood Alliance in Allen County, a family support organization that offers child care resource and referral services.
  • One year later, the initiative expanded to four surrounding counties served by the Alliance, with incentives secured through local community foundations.
  • In 2005, 4C [Community Coordinated Child Care] of Southern Indiana implemented Paths to QUALITY in 11 counties with the support of a local community foundation.
  • In May 2006, the Bureau of Child Care, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration convened a state child care quality rating system advisory group and began considering the feasibility of implementing a statewide QRIS.

In March 2007, the Bureau of Child Care and the Early Childhood Alliance signed a license agreement to adopt Paths to QUALITY as the state’s QRIS.

Standards and Criteria

Indiana's Research Review

Indiana published a review of research by an external evaluation team during the pilot phase of its QRIS, Paths to QUALITY (PTQ). In Paths to Quality–A Child Care Quality Rating System for Indiana: What Is its Scientific Basis?, Elicker, Langill, Ruprecht, and Kwon (2007) looked at existing research to determine whether the proposed Indiana QRIS levels and criteria would result in increasing the quality of child care that children receive. Evidence of the validity of the standards was shown by defining the standards and criteria, connecting the standards with other measures of quality, and relating the standards to children’s development and well-being. The researchers used a scale of “some or limited,” “moderate amount,” and “substantial” to describe the amount and quality of the scientific evidence for the standards and criteria. The authors came to the following conclusions:

  • A thorough review of 10 main quality indicators (including 12 additional sub-indicators) within the PTQ levels and standards revealed substantial scientific evidence for the validity of the PTQ quality criteria.
  • Seventy-five percent of the quality indicators the authors examined had “substantial evidence” for their validity …
  • Most of the PTQ quality indicators had significant evidence that they support children’s development, learning, or well-being in child care …
  • [There is] significant support for the validity of the PTQ quality indicators in the child development and early education scientific literature …
  • Most of the PTQ standards have the support of prominent early childhood education organizations, which have designated them as “best practices.”

Additional research reports are available on the Paths to QUALITY system website.

Indiana's Separate Standards for Infant and Toddler Care

Indiana’s Paths to QUALITY was unique among statewide systems in its inclusion of separate indicators for infants and toddlers at each level. Paths to QUALITY criteria were organized around process and structural quality. The criteria on structural quality were developed with evidence-based research and related to child outcomes. The Purdue University evaluation of its pilot suggested the following evidence-based outcomes:

  • Infants and toddlers cared for by providers with specialized training in child development or early childhood education were rated higher in social-emotional competence by their parents …
  • Lower teacher/child ratios are associated with less distress in toddlers, less apathy and distress in infants, and greater social competence …
  • When groups are smaller, teachers provide more stimulating, responsive, warm, and supportive interactions. They also … engage in more dialogues with children, spend less time managing children and more time in educational activities.

At level two, specific infant/toddler indicators for child care centers included criteria for the classroom environment, furnishings, materials, and toys, teacher and child interactions, daily scheduling of napping, outdoor play and safe environment, language development, and activities. Level three included the following specific infant/toddler indicators:

  • “Infants and toddlers are not expected to function as a large group.”
  • “Infants/toddlers [are offered] a variety of sensory-awakening experiences.”

Toddlers are offered opportunities for writing experiences each day.

Data Collection and Evaluation

Indiana QRIS Data Systems Were Interactive

The Indiana Paths to QUALITY program used a live, interactive database that drew facility and practitioner information from the state regulatory system. Mentors from the child care resource and referral agencies and Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children helped develop facility quality improvement plans, which were submitted, along with contact notes, into this web-based system. Paths to QUALITY raters could also enter their data directly. The database was developed through a contract with TCC Software Solutions and included their subsidy and licensing data.

Indiana Reviewed Standards for Validity

Purdue University evaluated Paths to QUALITY (PTQ) to determine if the program was effective. They wanted to know if it increased the quality of participating programs and if children in the higher-level program were learning more or developing optimally. In the first phase of its study, Purdue University examined the validity of the quality indicators and concluded that the 10 main indicators were significantly associated with established measures of child care quality, had significant support from the child development and early education literature, and were recognized and endorsed as best practices by national early care and education organizations in their polices and position statements. The report, Evaluation of “Paths to Quality,” Indiana’s Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System, showed significant evidence that the indicators supported children’s development, learning, or well-being.

Having established the validity of the standards, the evaluation then assessed PTQ’s impact on child care following implementation. The overall goals of the evaluation research were to validate the quality rating system and describe child care providers, parents, and children’s experiences with the program as it was implemented. The Purdue research team addressed the following evaluation questions:

  • When providers attain higher PTQ levels, does this result in higher quality care for children?
  • Are child care providers entering the PTQ system?
  • What are the incentives and the challenges for providers?
  • Are providers using available training/technical assistance (T/TA) resources?
  • Are providers advancing to higher PTQ levels?
  • Are parents aware of PTQ?
  • Will PTQ affect their parents’ child care decisions?
  • Are children and families at all education and income levels gaining access to child care at the highest PTQ levels?
  • Are children in higher PTQ levels developing more optimally than children in lower PTQ levels?

The researchers found that the PTQ rating system measures meaningful differences in child care quality, and children from all income levels were gaining access to higher quality care within PTQ. Provider participation levels were high—more than 2,100 providers were enrolled at the time of the study, including 82 percent of licensed child care centers and 52 percent of licensed family child care homes. However, public surveys and interviews with PTQ parents revealed that parent awareness of PTQ was low. Those parents who were aware of the system received the information from their child care providers.