B. Development of the FCCERS-R

The Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale–Revised Edition (FCCERS–R) is a thorough revision of the original Family Day Care Rating Scale (FDCRS, 1989). It is one of a series of four scales that share the same format and scoring system but vary considerably in requirements, because each scale assesses a different age group and/or type of child care and education setting. The FCCERS–R retains the original broad definition of environment including organization of space, interaction, activities, schedule, and provisions for parents and provider. The 38 items are organized into seven subscales: Space and Furnishings, Personal Care Routines, Listening and Talking, Activities, Interaction, Program Structure, and Parents and Provider. Since family child care homes frequently enroll a wide age range of children, this scale is designed to assess programs serving children from birth through school-agers, up to 12 years of age, including the provider’s own children if present. Therefore, the FCCERS–R contains items to assess provision in the environment for a wide age range, to ensure protection of children’s health and safety, appropriate stimulation through language and activities, and warm, supportive interaction.

Family child care providers often tell us that their program is “good” because the children they care for are treated just as their own children would be. But this point does not necessarily ensure the positive development we want for every child. In fact, it is challenging for any parent to meet the developmental needs of even one child to maximize positive development. In family child care, where a provider must meet the needs of a group of similarly aged children, or of a group of children who differ substantially in ages and abilities, the challenges multiply exponentially. A comprehensive, reliable, and valid instrument that assesses process quality and quantifies what is observed to be happening in a family child care home, can play an important role in improving the quality of care and educational experiences received by the children.

In order to define and measure quality, the FCCERS–R draws from three main sources: research evidence from a number of relevant fields (health, development, and education), professional views of best practice, and the practical constraints of real life in a family child care setting. The requirements of the FCCERS–R are based on what these sources judge to be important conditions for positive outcomes in children both while they are in the program and long afterward. The guiding principle here, as in all of our environment rating scales, has been to focus on what we know to be good for children.

Process of Revision

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.