Washington State’s Early Care & Education Research Agenda

It is with great excitement that I share with you today two very significant publications from the Washington State’s Department of Children, Youth and Families which outline their research agenda for licensing of early care and education programs.  These publications are ground breaking in that they address many of the key systemic issues that states are dealing with related to licensing and program quality today.

These publications provide a state example of how best to apply public policy analysis to
regulatory and standards development, validation and implementation. They provide a blueprint to follow as state administrators deal with the complex task of rule formulation within the context of differential monitoring involving risk assessment and key indicators. Washington State has provided actual study examples to Zellman and Fiene’s (2012) Conceptual Framework for Validation by applying it to licensing and regulatory compliance.

Washington staff have creatively utilized legislation to align several sets of standards, a
goal that has had difficulty coming to fruition in many other states. This is a public policy
approach that is both cost effective and efficient. Building upon this base, they have been able to craft a plan to test both validity and reliability of the data and decisions being made related to regulatory compliance, program quality and child outcomes.

Washington State has always been a leader in utilizing NARA’s Key Indicator Methodology as being one of the first states to fully implement such a system by utilizing the Fiene Indicators as part of their abbreviated tools.  Washington State staff continue to work with the National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) and the Research Institute for Key Indicators (RIKI) in building and refining their differential monitoring system.

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About Dr Fiene

Dr. Rick Fiene has spent his professional career in improving the quality of child care in various states, 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 indicator model of training, technical assistance, quality rating & improvement systems, professional development, mentoring, licensing, risk assessment, differential program monitoring, and accreditation. Dr. Fiene is a retired professor of human development & psychology (Penn State University) where he was department head and director of the Capital Area Early Childhood Research and Training Institute.
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