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Quality Interventions for Early Care and Education (QUINCE)

Child care quality--and strategies to improve it--are topics that have moved to the top of the early childhood policy agenda in Minnesota and the nation. Three trends have fueled the interest in the quality of early care and education:

  • First, over two-thirds of Minnesota's children under age 6 have both parents or their single parent in the labor force, making child care a necessity for most families with young children (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women, 2004).
  • Second, a convergence of evidence documents the importance of child care quality for children's well being and early school success (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000).
  • Third, research indicates that the quality of care available to children--especially infants and toddlers--is mediocre to low (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2000).

Across the early childhood education field, professional development and workforce qualifications have taken center stage as essential components of program quality that should be targeted in quality improvement initiatives.

QUINCE LogoQUINCE was an evaluation of professional development strategies and their impact on child care quality and preschool children's school readiness. This national evaluation was funded by the Child Care Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and coordinated by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Minnesota, California, Iowa, North Carolina, and Nebraska were five research sites included in the evaluation. Child Trends partnered with CEED to conduct the evaluation in Minnesota. QUINCE tested the efficacy of a unique model of on-site assessment-based consultation called Partnerships for Inclusion (PFI). The evaluation compared PFI to the typical kinds of professional development strategies available in the field, such as traditional classroom-based training and peer mentoring.

PFI blends a relationship-based approach and the environmental rating scales (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scales [ECERS] and Family Day Care Rating Scale [FDCRS]), which allows providers to learn the standards for high-quality care and work collaboratively with a consultant to assess their own environments, set goals for improvements, and carry out an action plan. The ultimate goal of the PFI consultation process is to equip providers with the skills and tools to continually assess and improve the quality of their program.

Learning LettersThe PFI model has been shown to enhance classroom quality significantly when delivered by highly trained university-based consultants (Wesley, 1994) and also when delivered by community-based child care consultants who were trained by the PFI team (Palsha & Wesley, 1998). Both studies included infant-toddler classrooms, and the second study (Palsha & Wesley, 1998) included a small number of family child care providers. QUINCE contributed findings that build on these foundational studies by testing the PFI model outside of North Carolina and with a larger sample of family child care homes.

One hundred thirteen licensed family child care providers from across Minnesota and nine preschool child care center teachers from across the Twin Cities participated in the research study. Additionally, 251 preschool-aged children enrolled in the project, as did 42 infants and toddlers.


Palsha, S., & Wesley, P. (1998). Improving quality in early childhood environments through on-site consultation. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 18, 243-253.

Wesley, P. (1994). Providing on-site consultation to promote quality in integrated child care programs. Journal of Early Intervention, 18, 391-402.

Project Staff

Amy Susman-Stillman, Principal Investigator

Kathryn Tout, Principal Investigator, Child Trends

Jennifer Cleveland, Coordinator

Katie Holmen, Research Associate

Brooke Rafdal, Graduate Research Associate

Jessica Pleuss, Graduate Research Associate

Rhiannon Williams, Graduate Research Associate


This work was conducted collaboratively with Child Trends. The project was coordinated by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and funded by the Child Care Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Last modified on February 21, 2013.