Improvements in home-based childhood services
Improvements over time in the quality of education and care provided by a service give a useful perspective on the vitality of the service.
What improvements have been made?
In 2001, when ERO’s last national evaluation report, What Counts as Quality in Home-Based Care, was published, there were 184 home-based services; currently there are 244.
Improvements between the 2001 evaluation and this current evaluation include:
- positive relationships between educators and children reported for all services, as distinct from 85 percent of services in 2001;
- an increased focus on promoting and extending children’s learning while maintaining high standards of care;
- improved compliance with legal requirements (in 2001, 75 percent of services were required to take action to improve aspects of safety; in 2008, 60 percent of services needed to improve health and safety practices);
- strengthened management systems, including some improvement in the quality of performance appraisal systems, (although performance management is still an area for further development);
- no references to some inappropriate practices noted in the 2001 report, such as children watching too much television, or learning literacy and numeracy through the use of worksheets rather than through play; and
- an increased focus on the importance of self review in improving outcomes for children.
Concerns raised in the 2001 report in which there has been little improvement include:
- the frequent absence of a bicultural perspective and use of te reo Maori in programmes, the learning environment and interactions;
- variations in the quality of educators’ programme planning and implementation, with an ongoing need for effective training and professional development;
- variation in the effectiveness of coordinators’ professional leadership in providing appropriate advice and guidance to educators for extending children’s learning;
- inconsistencies in the interpretation and the application of the Home-based Care Order; and
- a lack of information in ERO reports about how services make provision for cultural diversity or cater for children with special needs.
Improvements identified in ERO review reports of individual home-based early childhood services included:
- coordinators’ use of their service’s newly developed quality indicators to review the provision of high quality education and care;
- coordinators’ training in the use of a narrative approach for planning, assessing and evaluating the programme and children’s progress;
- efforts to raise coordinator and educator awareness of the need to incorporate te reo Maori and bi-cultural aspects into programmes;
- effective performance appraisal for educators, linked to appropriate professional development opportunities; and
- for some services, more clearly defined vision statements, systems, procedures and quality expectations for the provision of day-to-day care, as a result of organisational review and restructuring.