Virtual/Remote Inspections for Early Care and Education Programs

Licensing and Monitoring agencies are beginning to look more at doing “Virtual” or “Remote” inspections because of the COVID19 Pandemic. Attached below is a series of papers dealing with some key elements of this discussion: an introductory statement, NARA “Remote Inspection” Guide, and a checklist on the “13 Indicators Related to Health and Safety” published by ASPE.  Here is the introductory statement followed by the full series of papers:

Early Care and Education Virtual/Remote Inspections

Richard Fiene, Ph.D.

The purpose of this paper is to delineate what the key elements for virtual inspections could be given the present COVID19 pandemic.  It is suggested as guidance for licensing agencies and other Early Care and Education (ECE) agencies, such as Head Start.  Specific rule/standards will be suggested as well as other possible approaches to conducting virtual inspections.  It should be looked upon as a companion document to go along with NARA’s (National Association for Regulatory Administration) Virtual Inspection document (Attached document below).

Obviously, program monitoring via virtual inspections will change the oversight and inspection function of licensing agencies and other agencies responsible for measuring compliance or performance with ECE programs.  Here are the key elements and rules/standards that should be emphasized in these virtual reviews.   The focus will be on keeping children and staff healthy and safe.  Rules/standards related to health and safety should be emphasized, especially those that will prevent the spread of infectious diseases.   Also rules/standards that will support and enhance mitigation efforts such as group size, staff-child ratios, square footage should be emphasized.

Specific rules/standards in the following areas:

  • Group size and Staff-Child ratios;
  • Attendance/Enrollment;
  • Health and Safety (especially related to the spread of infectious diseases);
  • Exposure time;
  • Square footage;
  • Drop off and Pick Up arrangements;
  • Transportation;
  • Mixing of groups and small group activities;
  • Care for Ill Children;
  • Fiscal Stability.

If the above suggested rules/standards review does not work then an alternative approach could be one in which the virtual inspection would focus on the rules/standards in the following tool:

Thirteen ECE Key Indicators (Attached document below)

This tool contains statistical key predictor rules/standards that will predict overall compliance.  So an agency can administer this tool virtually similar to the suggestions in NARA’s Virtual Inspection Guide and only follow up with those ECE programs which demonstrate non-compliance with any of the rules/standards with the 13 Key Indicators.

ECE Virtual/Remote Inspections Papers

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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