RIKI – Research Institute for Key Indicators LLC, directed by Dr Richard Fiene, Research Psychologist and Retired Professor of Psychology and Human Development, Penn State University, focus is to improve the quality of early care and education programs nationally and internationally through an empirically based Key Indicator methodology.  

What are the key indicators that distinguish high quality programs?   It is not about finding more or less rules/regulations/standards, it is about finding the “right” rules/regulations/standards that help produce positive outcomes for children (Theory of Regulatory Compliance).  And then it is building and implementing data driven/empirically based program monitoring systems that reflect this knowledge in order to determine the most cost effective and efficient approach (Theory of Regulatory Compliance (TRC) Monitoring Paradigms Key Elements).

The Key Indicator methodology created by Dr Fiene in the 1970’s which resulted in an Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement & Indicator Model (RIKI ECPQIM-DMLMA Book of Readingshas gone through four generations from 1975 through to 2013. The ECPQIM’s key components/elements in improving child care quality are through an early childhood program quality indicator model of training, technical assistance, quality rating & improvement systems, professional development, mentoring, licensing, risk assessment, differential program monitoring, and accreditation.

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Richard Fiene, Ph.D., Research Psychologist (Bio)(CV)

Dr. Fiene has spent his professional career in improving the quality of child care in Pennsylvania, nationally, and internationally. He has done extensive research and publishing on the key components in improving child care quality through an Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement & Indicator Model (RIKI/NARA ECPQIM/DMLMA Slides (DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.27735.88484))(RIKI ECPQIM/DMLMA Brief Collection of Readings)(Penn State Prevention Research Center’s Seminar ECPQIM/DMLMA Video)(Licensing Measurement and Systems Presentation) of training, technical assistance, mentoring, licensing, monitoring, and accreditation. The child care models that he developed in the 1970s and 1980s have been used in the majority of states to improve their licensing/regulatory systems and were the precursors to the development of quality rating systems. A Parent’s Guide to Choosing Safe and Healthy Child Care published by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and used by the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care is based upon Dr. Fiene’s 13 Indicators of Child Care Quality has been used as a checklist by parents nationally to select child care (Parents Guide Checklist). This checklist was highlighted in a Parade Magazine article (7/19/09) The New Push For Quality Child Care. In addition, his 13 Indicators have been used as part of NACCRRA’s Report Card on Child Care Quality: We CAN Do Better.

In addition to Dr Fiene’s academic appointments at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Pennsylvania State University as a professor of human development and psychology, he has been a Special Assistant to both the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families and the Secretary of Public Welfare during the 1990’s in which he was the Research Director and Policy Analyst for the development of the licensing and training systems in the Department of Public Welfare (now the Department of Human Services) for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He also was part of the statewide committee that developed the original standards for the Pennsylvania QRIS Keystone STARS program and the original designer of the CCECD – Child Care and Early Childhood Development training system. In the development of the CCECD training system, he provided the initial funding for Better Kid Care an innovative national on-line training delivery system.  He co-founded the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Early Childhood Education Linkage System (ECELS) with Dr Susan Aronson; he was the founding director of CAECTI – Capital Area Early Childhood Training and Research Institute at Penn State University with Dr Mark Greenberg, Director of the Prevention Research Center (PRC Five-Year Report)(PRC Ten Year Report); and helped to bring TEACH to Pennsylvania.  Dr Fiene is a past Fellow of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, a past Member of the American Psychological Society, National Association for the Education of Young Children, Society for Research in Child Development,  and one of the founders of the University-Based Child and Family Policy Consortium.

Dr Fiene’s education include a BA in early childhood/elementary education and an MA and PhD in developmental psychology.  Dr Fiene was a Regents Scholar while at SUNY Stony Brook.  He continues taking CITI courses (CITI Biomedical Certificate) (CITI Clinical Practice Certificate) as a research psychologist/investigator and affiliate professor at Penn State University and Penn State Hershey – College of Medicine.  Dr Fiene has received several awards during his career, including the 2017 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.  He continues to be a member (retired) of the Association for Psychological Science as a research psychologist.

Over the past 40 years, Dr Fiene’s research and publications have helped states develop and improve their child care licensing systems to more clearly focus on the key factors in developing high quality child care programs. His key indicator and weighting methodologies developed in the 1970’s have led to the development and implementation of risk assessment, differential monitoring, and abbreviated inspections in the regulatory administration field; have been highlighted in three major national publications by the Assistant Secretary’s Office of Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) & United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Office of Children Care (OCC): the ASPE white paper (Innovation in Monitoring ECE Programs), HHS/USDA Joint Monitoring Statement (Final HHS USDA Joint Monitoring Policy Statement) and the OCC licensing brief (Monitoring Strategies for Determining Compliance); and are part of the NARA Licensing Curriculum.  Most recently Dr Fiene’s research while at CAECTI related to his mentoring/coaching program was highlighted as a compelling model in the ASPE/LITES Compelling Models Report and his differential monitoring approach was highlighted in the OPRE/Child Trends’ Coordinated Monitoring Systems in Early Care and Education Report.  In 2016, the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Education Tiered Licensing System based upon Dr Fiene’s key indicator and risk assessment methodologies received an innovation award.  And in 2017, BUILD, the National Center for Early Childhood Quality Assurance (NCECQA), and the National Association for Regulatory Administration collaborated on a series of webinars (The Webinar Series: OCC Website) with 10 states to more efficiently and effectively monitor licensing; and the development of a National Standards Crosswalk Tool by NCECQA.

His key indicator and weighting methodologies have led to the development of Stepping Stones to Caring for Our Children, the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation system, Head Start Differential Monitoring and Key Indicators, Caring for Our Children-Basics, Thirteen Key Indicators to Quality Child Care, and the Cruise to Quality Child Care Standards for the cruise line industry as adapted by CLIA.

In 2013, Dr Fiene created RIKI – Research Institute for Key Indicators LLC in order to consolidate all research development into a single research institute.  All Dr Fiene’s previous research became part of the new institute specifically designed to further develop his human service licensing and program monitoring methodologies and systems.  In 2016-17, RIKI has had the distinct honor to become a partner with Results For America as it relates to providing and supporting empirical evidence for blue ribbon interventions – Invest in What Works Coalition Partners.

In 2015, RIKI and NARA (National Association for Regulatory Administration) entered into an exclusive partnership for the future development and implementation of differential monitoring, risk assessment and key indicators in which NARA will assume the intellectual property rights of these methodologies. Also please see the NARA Key Indicator Systems BrochureNARA Targeted Measurement Tools, NARA Key Indicator Webpage, and NARA Key Indicator Systems.

For additional information, please contact: RFiene@NARALicensing.org 

Please see the Press Release on the partnership between NARA and RIKI.
(nara press release on nara–riki partnership).

Dr Fiene pictured with Tara Orlowski, NARA President and Marcus Williams, NARA Executive Director.

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I have updated the Licensing Measurement and Systems NARA Licensing Curriculum Course through the use of this website.

For those interested, one can start with the publications webpage which is listed on (https://rikinstitute.com/publications) the menu above on this RIKI Institute website. These publications chronicle 40+ years of research into licensing measurement and research with particular emphasis on the Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement and Indicator Model (ECPQIM).

After reviewing this webpage, the interested reader can go to the RIKI Reports (https://rikinstitute.com/reports) webpage which provides detailed national and state reports in developing differential monitoring, key indicator and risk assessment systems. It also provides many actual examples of tools and policies that can be used by state administrators.

There are additional webpages that the interested reader can explore in greater detail if s/he is so inclined, such as: the webpage that contains posters and articles (https://rikinstitute.com/posters) which really summarizes the ECPQIM in a series of posters and refereed journal articles. Or the webpage that gives a detailed overview to ECPQIM/DMLMA (https://rikinstitute.com/ecpqim) where one will find many documents which detail the key elements of the model dealing with licensing, and program quality initiatives, such as quality rating and improvement systems or professional development systems. And then finally, there is a webpage that lists related websites (https://rikinstitute.com/websites) which will provide additional information related to ECPQIM research; and a blog (https://rikinstitute.com/blog) that chronicles the latest thinking about licensing measurement and systems.

I also have the following website (http://rikinstitute.wikispaces.com) which is sort of like an appendix for the course by having over 300 resources that support the RIKI Institute website.

This course was usually offered over two days; now with all the updated material it is a five day/full week course equivalent to a three credit course or 45 contact hours for those who would be interested in CEU’s.  The course can be offered totally online, a combination of online and in person, or totally in person.  It can be offered over a full week or over 15 weeks with 3 hour classes.

Here is a brief outline of the Course, Licensing Measurement and Systems, (Content (Webpage location)):

  1. Overview (ECPQIM/DMLMA & Publications)
  2. Conceptual/Theoretical Framework (ECPQIM/DMLMA & Publications)
  3. Principles of Instrument Design (RIKI Reports & Appendix)
  4. Measurement: Reliability and Validity (RIKI Reports & Appendix)
  5. Regulatory Compliance and Program Quality (ECPQIM/DMLMA)
  6. QRIS and other Quality Initiatives (RIKI Blog)
  7. Statistical Methods and Data Base Development (RIKI Reports & RIKI Blog)
  8. Coordinated Program Monitoring (National)
  9. Differential Monitoring, Risk Assessment, Key Indicators (ECPQIM/DMLMA & RIKI Blog)
  10. What Research Tells Us (Posters/Articles)
  11. What Research Doesn’t Tell Us: Unanswered Questions (RIKI Blog)
  12. National, International, and State Examples (RIKI Reports, RIKI Blog & Appendix)
  13. Future Directions (RIKI Blog)

Please contact me if you have questions or comments:
Rick Fiene, Affiliate Professor, Penn State Prevention Research Center at rjf8@psu.edu 


Contact Information:

  • Richard Fiene, Ph.D., Research Institute for Key Indicators (RIKILLC)
  • Office Phone: 717-598-8908
  • Email: Fiene@RIKInstitute.com

RIKI Funding and contracts:   State of Georgia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, National Association for Regulatory Administration, Office of Head Start, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Penn State University, Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Education, Office of Child Care, State of Hawaii, State of Oregon,  The Lewin Group, State of Colorado, State of New York, and Child Trends.