Meteorological Decision Matrix

Here is a proposed Meteorological Decision Matrix that I thought would be helpful in looking at historical TDS: Tornadic Debris Signature data or any severe storm data in general. This 2 x 2 Matrix is a common tool used within the social sciences and in other fields. I thought it might have some applicability in the field of meteorology as well.

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Royal Meteorological Society and the SkyWarn Spotter Certificates

I became a member of the Royal Meteorological Society recently and a SkyWarn Spotter by completing the NWS/NOAA Basic SkyWarn training.

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Meteorological Correlation Coefficient and the Tornadic Debris Signature (TDS) Metrics

As I promised in my earlier post, I said I would highlight some of my discussions and my research journey into meteorology. So here is the first such post dealing with a couple of very interesting discussions I have been having with meteorologists.

Here are some of my impressions I have drawn from these wonderful discussions:

I wanted to follow up with a response based upon my earlier questions regarding the correlation coefficient and just some impressions from a non-meteorologist but someone really interested in data in whatever form it takes.  The first impression has to do with the term correlation coefficient which for the non-meteorologist is slightly confusing, especially if you are coming from the social sciences.  When I look at the intent and purpose of the correlation coefficient, a term like “debris coefficient” seems more appropriate.  It doesn’t change the interpretation, I think it just better describes its intent.  I found it especially confusing when I was reading about the correlation coefficient being correlated with some other metric or variable.

The second impression was in viewing radar scopes and their interpretation.  I found that very fascinating and I think the raw data behind the radar scope displays would be even more interesting to analyze.  It would be interesting to see if there are any thresholds or tipping points right before the TDS – Tornadic Debris Signature begins to establish itself.  I have found in many assorted data distributions that there are trigger points, thresholds, or tipping points which have a profound impact on subsequent data.  For example, are there statistical predictors in earlier data that predict the formation of the tornado.  If it has not been done already, this could be an interesting analytical framework.

Another impression I had is the wealth of resources available, especially the number of online courses made available through NOAA/NWS.  I would highly recommend to anyone interested in meteorology to consult the following site (, you will not be disappointed in seeing what is at your fingertips. 

RMetS Member: 59934

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An Excursion into Meteorology

I have always had a keen interest in meteorology but never had the time to really get into it because of my research work as a research psychologist and regulatory scientist. But now in retirement from Penn State and RIKI I do have the time to really begin to make a full excursion into it. So this blog post will be very different than all the previous 175 blog posts and I will introduce this new journey.

As many of you probably know, I am a real data geek. I have been since grad school when you begin to make the decision to go clinical or research in psychology. I have always loved numbers and working with data sets. So for me it was an easy choice. Recently, I had found that I wasn’t getting my data fix and being a data addict, I started to think more about meteorology and all the data that are present when you look at radar and weather charts. So I took the plunge and got my personal weather station (PWS). It is an Ambient Weather WS-2902-C WiFi OSPREY Solar Powered.

Here is a posting of my RIKIRJF Weather Station:

As you can see from the weather station name I have stuck with the RIKI label. Here are some other URLs that will take you to other weather related sites that you might be more familiar with:

I have fully engaged in my excursion in setting up my PWS, but also I am pursuing getting registered and certified as a mPing SkyWarn Spotter so that I can send actual observations of storm conditions in addition to the data that gets sent to the NWS: National Weather Service via their CWOP program from my PWS (GW2138; G2138).

I have also become a member and an associate with the Royal Meteorological Society and the American Meteorological Society to learn more of the science and to further my education and take courses. Royal Meteorological Society American Meteorological Society

I have been so welcomed by the memberships of both societies and they have been so willing to share their knowledge with an amateur meteorologist. It has been a great deal of fun and very intellectually stimulating. It is not everyday when you can correspond with meteorologists from NOAA and NASA. I plan in future blog posts to share some of these conversations.

Rick Fiene, RMetS Member: 59934; CWOFID: GW2138; MADISID: G2138. You can contact me at (Email for RJFRIKI) or (Institute email for RIKIAWS/RIKIRJF).

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Random Thoughts About Life, Especially As We Age

Sometimes we have a tendency to push the envelope too far and the contents of the envelope gets lost in the process.

You can tell that there is high inflation because the “money stealer wildflowers” are really bad this year.

Seniors always have something new to talk about because they can’t remember what they talked about the day before.

For seniors every day is a new day because they can’t remember what happened yesterday.

The beginning of life our birthdays are important because we haven’t had many, and at the end of our life they are equally important because we realize we don’t have many left.

Time becomes precious as we age because we begin to realize we don’t have much left.

Doing nothing about anything is the epitome of laziness.

Later is better than sooner is the essence of procrastination.

By thinking we are creating each other.

Object permanence is the basis of all existence. Person permanence is the basis of all relationships.

Today is yesterday’s future.

When the mental meets the physical, one has a singularity; or, Yin + Yang = Singularity.

I always thought that “kicking the can down the road” was not a good thing, until my wife got cancer and her treatments have given us the opportunity to “kick the can down the road” when it comes to longevity.

Forgetting something isn’t a big deal, it is not realizing that you forgot something, That is a big deal.

Living in the present means forgetting about yesterday and tomorrow.

Cars traveling at 60 miles per hour at each other doesn’t make sense; our roads were constructed when buggies went 5 miles per hour.

Rifles were needed back in the 1700s and the second amendment made sense, but assault rifles are not needed for peace or hunting. They are for war and killing the enemy. Second amendment is an 18th century law and doesn’t pertain to the 21st century.

Getting from here to there isn’t a big deal in quantum mechanics because you’re in both places at the same time.

In quantum mechanics, entanglement is looking in the mirror and seeing someone else.

As children we build plastic models, as adults we build logic models.

The most expensive things in life are not really better, we just think they are.

Supply and demand is a group thought process.

Once a decision is made, non-linear reality becomes linear.

Timing is everything in life, from finding the love of your life, to finding a parking spot close to where you need to be.

A line is just a group of connected dots all going in the same direction.

Multiple universes can exist but we can only observe one.

The beginning of life and the end of life are matching bookends to each of our stories. The richness of our life is how many chapters and books we create between the beginning and end.

Senior vision is like star wars on a Monet canvas with the floaters and our less than optimal vision.

Sometimes the line between what is and what could be gets blurred.

We should always think we are better than we are, and sometimes we really are.

A mistress can be a woman/man or an avocation; love knows no boundaries.

Genius is seeing what has always been there but others have missed.

Einstein was only partly right about “God not playing dice with the universe”; God does if you accept quantum mechanics.

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Fiene Key Indicator Coefficients

Below is a graphic that depicts the key thresholds for the use of the Fiene Key Indicator Coefficients in a differential monitoring approach. The graphic provides an illustration of the Fiene Key Indicator (FKI) values and the number of compliant/non-compliant programs by highest and lowest quartiles. It also provides the thresholds for a good licensing rule and a good QRIS: Quality Rating and Improvement System predictor. Licensing researchers and regulatory scientists can use this graphic in making a pass/fail decision tree with their particular rules/regulations/standards determination in constructing a Key Indicator Instrument.

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Organization of the NARA and RIKI Websites: What is Available and Where!

For those of you who are interested in the NARA Licensing Measurement Course I wanted to provide a location map on where you can find all the resources for the course because they have grown a great deal over the years.

On the NARA website you will find the following (

Brochure describing the various methodologies


Technical Research Notes

All the NARA Related Reports

Regulatory Compliance/Science Theoretical Papers

Powerpoint/Webinar Slides with Notes

On the RIKI Website you will find the following (


RIKI Notes Blog Posts

All the Publications and documents related to Licensing Measurement

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Key Indicators and Risk Assessment Rule Metrics Revisited (RIKINotes BlogPost #172)

I have posted on licensing metrics in this blog several times and wanted to provide an update to the latest thinking related to the relationship between these two methodologies based upon a hypothetical risk assessment scale. This is provided for those licensing researchers and regulatory scientists who are interested in the measurement dynamics of licensing/regulatory data. These concepts are pertinent to regulatory science in general and are not specific to any content area. A graphic display of this relationship is provided in the attached document with a brief explanation of how key indicator rules and risk assessment rules are related.

As I have said in previous blogs and publications, risk assessment rules are to mitigate the relative risk to clients while key indicator rules are predictor rules and predict overall regulatory compliance with all rules. Risk assessment rules are the “Do No Harm” rules while key indicator rules are more like the “Do Good” rules.

The important factor in any differential monitoring system is finding the right balance of risk assessment and key indicator rules. We always want the approach to be cost effective and efficient at the same time. Again effectiveness is more pertinent to the risk assessment rules while efficiency is more pertinent to the key indicator rules. This is easier said than done.

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Three Theories of Regulatory Compliance

There are three theories of regulatory compliance that I would like to introduce and probably will spend some time describing in future blog posts but for the time being let me just introduce them.

The three theories of regulatory compliance are the following: Responsive regulation (Ayers & Braithwaite, 1992); Socio-economic (Sutinen & Kuperan, 1999); and Diminishing returns (Fiene, 2019). These three theories help to provide the basic parameters of regulatory compliance within regulatory science. Each deals with a specific parameter of regulatory compliance when it comes to approaches, measurement, and analyses. A great deal has been written about each of these theories by viewing the many search engines available to regulatory scientists and licensing researchers.

For the interested regulatory scientist and/or licensing researcher, I would suggest beginning with the three publications below as a starting point:

Ayers, I. & Braithwaite, J. (1992). Responsive Regulation: Transcending the Deregulation Debate. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sutinen, J.G. and Kuperan, K. (1999) A Socio-Economic Theory of Regulatory Compliance. International Journal of Social Economics, 26, 174-193.

Fiene, R. (2019). A treatise on Regulatory Compliance. Journal of Regulatory Science, Volume 7, 2019.

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Kenya’s Use of the Regulatory Compliance Theory of Diminishing Returns

I have posted several blog-feeds previously on how Kenya has been very creatively utilizing the regulatory compliance theory of diminishing returns in several industries when it comes to regulatory development and analyses. It has become evident in theses being produced at the university level as well as faculty research being published. This is an excellent example of a developing country taking an out-of-the-box approach to regulatory analysis which should yield both effective and efficient results for their country. Rather than getting into the argument as many highly industrialized countries have done about either more or less regulations, Kenya has embraced the new theory (Fiene, 2016, 2019, 2022) in the search for the productive regulations that produce the greatest output/outcome. I would hope that other countries would follow Kenya’s example as they develop and revise their rules and regulations.

Fiene, Richard, Theory of Regulatory Compliance (October 1, 2016). Available at SSRN or

Fiene, R. (2019). A treatise on Regulatory Compliance. Journal of Regulatory Science, Volume 7, 2019.

Regulatory Compliance Monitoring Paradigms and the Relationship of Regulatory Compliance/Licensing with Program Quality: A Policy Commentary, Journal of Regulatory Science, Volume 10, 2022.

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Theses Utilizing the Theory of Regulatory Compliance

Improving medical records documentation among the health workers remains a
major challenge to achieving compliance to medical records documentation SOP in
many developing countries. Compliance to medical records documentation SOP can
be used to improve health care and protect people against catastrophic health care
risks and expenses. Most developing countries have low compliance to medical
records documentation SOP and rely on manual systems for documentation. Despite
having automated systems in some private and public health facilities, compliance to
medical records documentation is still below the acceptable standards. The main
objective of this study was to establish compliance with medical records
documentation SOP among health workers in Bungoma level 4 hospital, Kenya,
with specific objective of determining association between socio-demographic
characteristics and compliance with medical records documentation SOP, influence
of institutional characteristics and, influence of health workers’ IT Proficiency
on compliance with medical records documentation SOP among health workers in
Bungoma level 4 hospital. The current study adopted an analytical cross-sectional
design and quantitative data was collected using self-administered questionnaires,
stratified proportionate and simple random sampling techniques were both employed
to select 197 health workers sampled from a target population of 400 in Bungoma
level 4 hospital. Chi-square, fishers exact, and Binary logistic regression analyses
were used to test the association and the relationships between dependent
(compliance with medical records documentation SOP) and independent variables
(sociodemographic, institutional, and IT proficiency) respectively, albeit at a 95%
confidence interval (CI), frequency tables, pie charts, and bar graphs were used to
summarize and present the results. The current analysis confirmed that the
compliance level to medical records documentation SOP was indeed very low at
47.2%. Socio-demographic factors such as Cadre (Fisher‟s exact test =24.52;
p=0.002), level of education (Fisher‟s exact test =11.26; p=0.042), and work
experience χ2 (8.75, df=5, N =195) p=0.047 were significantly associated with
compliance to medical records documentation SOP. On both Institutional
characteristics (P=0.023, exp(B)=1.454) and healthcare worker‟s Information
Technology proficiency (P=0.027, exp(B)=2.156), positively influenced compliance
to medical records documentation SOP. The current study concludes that, cadre,
level of education, and work experience were significantly associated with
compliance to medical records documentation SOP, Institutional characteristics like
technical support, requisite documents, staff training and, health worker‟s
information technology proficiency, positively influenced compliance to medical
records documentation SOP respectively. The study therefore, recommends an
urgent need for the County Government to channel additional funding towards
employing more technical staff, procuring the requisite documentation tools, and
training of staff on the documentation tools. Otherwise, the facility health
management team needs to factor in periodic Information Technology refresher
training for health workers, since the majority of health workers in Bungoma level 4
facility seem to have at least an intermediate level of IT proficiency. Future research
should incorporate more robust data collection methods like observation checklists,
and also consider qualitative methods like Key Informant Interviews to establish
better insight on the compliance with medical records documentation SOP across all
level 4 health facilities in Bungoma County and beyond.

Another Thesis:

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Two Additional Studies Utilizing the Theory of Regulatory Compliance

Here are two additional studies utilizing the theory of regulatory compliance from Kenya published in International Journal of Human Capital in Urban Management and the Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs by Dr Wilfred Ochieng Omollo.

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Rwanda Study Utilizing the Theory of Regulatory Compliance

The study examined the relationship between procurement process compliance and procurement
performance of public procuring entities in Rwanda. The objective of the study was to assess the effects of procurement planning on procurement performance; to assess the effects of procurement sourcing and
contract management on procurement performance and to assess the effects of procurement transparency on procurement performance of public procuring entities in Rwanda.

A descriptive survey research design was adopted using quantitative methods and used closed ended
questionnaire as a data collection instrument. The study targeted 94 respondents from five districts located in the northern province of Rwanda. Purposive and stratified sampling techniques were used to select respondents. Data was then analyzed on quantitative basis using Pearson’s correlation, multiple linear regression analysis and descriptive statistics.

The regression model used was LogY= βo + β1LogXit1 + β2LogXiit2 + β3LogXiiit3 + ɛt and multiple R (correlation) value obtained was 0.995 (99.5%). The model summary depicted from the regression analysis with multiple R (correlation) value of 0.995 (99.5%) indicated a highly positive relationship between the dependent and independent variables and, the overall contribution of the independent variables: procurement plan (P1), Procurement process (P2), and procurement transparency (or P3) to the procurement performance (or P4) which accounted for 99.04% (R2 = 0.9904) of the variation in the procurement performance.

The research concluded that procurement planning, procurement process compliance and procurement ethics in public procurement had a great significance on procurement performance which led to confirm the relationship between capacity building in procurement and regulatory compliance of government
Procurement entities in Rwanda. As a recommendation, procuring entities should continue to focus more on ensuring compliance to procurement regulations in public procurement to ensure a sustainable procurement performance.

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National Research Conference on Early Childhood Poster Presentation

Here is the link to a poster presentation with Dr Sonya Stevens, Daniel Blevins, and Amber Salzer entitled: Identifying Predictive Indicators: The State of Washington Foster Care Home Study. The poster presentation was at the National Research Conference on Early Childhood, June 27th – 29th.

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The LMS eBook

Below is the LMS eBook containing the original handbook, the webinar slides with notes, the NARA reports, and the technical research notes all together in one volume rather than having them in different posts and in different sections of the website.

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Research and Practice: Health and Safety of Child Care Centers

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NRCEC: National Research Conference on Early Childhood Virtual Venue

Below is the National Research Conference on Early Childhood Program Book which gives the details of the 2022 conference with all presenters and their sessions. The conference will be held June 27-29, 2022. NRCEC presents the latest research on early childhood programs and the young children and families they serve. The virtual venue will host plenaries, breakout sessions, poster sessions, networking discussions, and more. NRCEC promotes conversations between early childhood researchers, practitioners and policy-makers.

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Licensing Measurement & Program Monitoring Systems eHandBook

Below is a Licensing Measurement & Program Monitoring Systems eHandBook to accompany the NARA Licensing Measurement and Systems course. It is recommended to be read along with taking the NARA course but it can be read as a stand alone book. It is a short guide to licensing measurement introducing some of the key issues and tenets related to applying regulatory science to human service regulatory administration. It is meant to be read in one sitting but hopefully it will generate a lifetime of questions related to the field of regulatory science.

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Using Research to Improve Child Care

The attached report is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago; it is a synthesis of major issues, policy questions, available research findings and information needs in child care policy, presented in a form that can provide a framework for ongoing dialogue and action by the research community in partnership with state child care administrators and other key stakeholders.

This report builds upon work at the Child Care Policy Research Symposium, sponsored by the
Child Care Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services. The Symposium brought together researchers, child care policymakers and state and federal staff for a unique opportunity to discuss current research efforts and the research needs of state child care administrators.

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Provision of Technical Assistance to States: Better Care for the Babies Project.

This is an older report but I thought it was still relevant today, so I wanted to post it for other ECE researchers and regulatory scientists to review and use.

The Better Care for the Babies (BCTB) Project was initiated in April 1989 to help states improve the quality of infant and toddler child care, especially for low-income children whose parents are in the labor force and/or making the transition from welfare to work. The BCTB Project initiated ongoing, negotiated, goal-directed technical assistance with three state interagency teams in Florida, Illinois, and Utah; conducted a national technical assistance forum; and implemented national outreach through the preparation and dissemination of policy papers. The chapters of this case study describe the background and design of the project, the policy context and assumptions, the technical assistance approach and implementation, project actions and policy improvements related to child care quality made by the BCTB states, the project as perceived by key participating state administrators themselves, lessons learned, and recommendations. The recommendations focus on federal mandates that would include incentives, offering states goal-directed technical assistance, coordination of state policies and programs, and conveyance of information to state leaders concerning the influence of child care on child development.

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Regulatory Compliance Validation Study Data Bases

Last month several regulatory compliance validation studies were posted (May 22nd). For regulatory science and licensing researchers who are interested, the SPSS databases are available through Mendeley Data (Fiene, Dr Richard (2022), “Regulatory Compliance Theory of Diminishing Returns”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/cchm8w64xd.1) or by contacting Dr Fiene directly and requesting the respective SPSS database.

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National and State/Provincial Presentations Involving Differential Monitoring and Key Indicators

Below are several national and state/provincial (Massachusetts, Minnesota, Alberta) presentations involving differential monitoring and key indicators.

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Using SAS to Generate Key Indicators

Here is an analysis performed by statisticians from the Province of British Columbia, Fraser Health, Population Health Observatory utilizing SAS rather than SPSS which is the best example of this approach. In this technical research note it outlines very nicely the approach taken that can be utilized by other regulatory scientists and licensing researchers. I highly recommend the statistical approach.

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Regulatory Science Paradigm Examples

Below is a policy commentary article just published in the Journal of Regulatory Science, Volume 10, Issue 1 on regulatory science monitoring paradigms and the relationship between regulatory compliance and program quality. Eighteen key elements are introduced in a series of dichotomies which help to lay out a blueprint and the parameters when thinking about program monitoring and the continuum between regulatory compliance and program quality.

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Regulatory Compliance Data Analysis Plan Example taken from Risk Assessment Indicators

Below is a brief technical research note providing an example of a data analysis plan utilizing risk assessment indicators. It provides a means for thinking about how best to implement such a plan from initial design to validation of the plan.

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Regulatory Compliance Validation Studies

Here are five studies that demonstrate validation of the Licensing Key Indicator (LKI), Risk Assessment Methodology (RAM), and Regulatory Compliance Theory (RCT). The studies were done in the states of Georgia (RAM, RCT), Washington (RAM, RCT) national with Head Start (RCT), and internationally in the Provinces of Ontario (LKI) and Saskatchewan (LKI, RAM).

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Comparison of Online Mandated Reporter Trainings

Here is a recently published article on comparing online mandated reporter trainings which highlights the iLookOut Child Abuse Prevention Training program. Very interesting state by state comparisons.

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Regulatory Science Metrics Matrix

The 2 x 2 matrix format has been used in many different contexts when it comes to decision making. I have found the 2 x 2 matrix very useful in regulatory science especially when it comes to measuring regulatory compliance with rules. In this post, I would like to delineate how the 2 x 2 matrix can be used with nominal measurement of regulatory compliance where it is the essence of regulatory science metrics.

Compliance (+)Non-Compliance (-)
MeasurementCompliance (+) (++) Expected False Negative (-/+)
Non-Compliance (-)False Positive (+/-) (–) Expected
Regulatory Science Metrics Matrix

In the 2 x 2 matrix above, the Regulatory Science Metrics Matrix, we are attempting to measure regulatory compliance comparing the measurement by an inspector with what exists in reality. The (+) = a positive response (there is compliance) and a (-) = a negative response (there is non-compliance). The (++) = compliance was recorded/measured and in reality there really was compliance. This is expected and desirable since we want everyone to comply with the respective rules we are measuring. The (–) = there was non-compliance recorded/measured and in reality there really was non-compliance. This is expected but not desirable; obviously we don’t want to find any non-compliance although it is good that the inspector is reliably accurate. The False Positive (+/-) = there was non-compliance recorded/measured but in reality there was compliance. The False Negative (-/+) = compliance was recorded/measured but in reality there was non-compliance.

From a regulatory science point of view and the measurement of regulatory compliance, the (++) and (–) are the two results we want to see; they are expected and desirable. We never want to see a False Negative (-/+), and we would like to minimize False Positives (+/-) whenever possible. In the actual regulatory science world, false positives and negatives do occur and are part of regulatory science. The goal is to minimize them as much as possible. This above Regulatory Science Metrics Matrix has become a useful tool in measuring regulatory compliance and in validation studies related to regulatory science in the human services.

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Comparing the CLASS and ERS Program Quality Scales

Two of the most widely used early care and education program quality tools used in the field are the CLASS: Classroom Assessment Scoring System and ERS: Environmental Rating Scales. Is there an advantage to using one versus the other. In the state of Washington as part of their QRIS: Quality Rating and Improvement System they happen to utilize both. In a study validating their Licensing Decision Making System, I had the opportunity to see them used side by side and wanted to report the results here. In other separate studies conducted in Head Start, Georgia, and Pennsylvania I saw similar results but wanted to wait to have the CLASS and ERS side by side in a specific study.

Here is what I found in making that comparison. In comparing the CLASS head to head with the ERS the correlation between the two scales was r = .24; p < .0001; n = 385. So both scales had a statistically significant correlation which one would expect since they are both measuring classroom quality, albeit from different perspectives.

Where it becomes interesting is when one begins to compare the two with the Washington state QRIS correlations. The CLASS and QRIS is r = .12; p < .022; n = 385 while the ERS and QRIS is r = .39; p < .0001; n = 385. It appears that the ERS is more sensitive at discriminating differences in QRIS than the CLASS. I further tested this my running one-way ANOVAs: CLASS x QRIS: F = 10.71; p < .0001; n = 385 while the ERS x QRIS: F = 26.534; p < .0001; n = 385. Both are statistically significant but the ERS again shows a much larger F ratio than is the case with the CLASS. To delve more deeply into these differences required looking at some basic descriptive statistics, such as the mean, standard deviation, skewness, and kurtosis. The following chart shows the results.

Standard Deviation0.750.65
Comparison of CLASS and ERS Descriptive Statistics

As one can see from the descriptive statistics there are some major differences between the CLASS and the ERS in how the data distributions play out. The ERS clearly has more variance in their data distribution than the CLASS does. These results are consistent with other studies in analyzing the respective data distributions. I feel that these results are significant for other early care and education researchers, developmental psychologists, and regulatory scientists as they conduct similar studies utilizing these respective tools.

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Key Indicators and Risk Assessment Applied to the Ten Commandments

I get asked all the time about what is the difference between the Key Indicator and the Risk Assessment methodologies. Generally I reply with a very academic type of response either explaining the difference given the research literature or the statistical methodologies employed. It hasn’t worked very well and there still is confusion in the field about the differences between what is a key indicator rule and what is a risk assessment rule. So I am going to take a different tack and let’s apply it to one of the most important sets of rules that has ever existed and see if it helps: The Ten Commandments.

Let’s start with the risk assessment methodology and attempt to ascertain which of the Ten Commandments would be a risk assessment rule. What immediately jumps out to me is “Thou Shall Not Kill”. This commandment would definitely fall under the “do no harm” rule of risk assessment in attempting to avoid morbidity and mortality concerns. If I were to send this out to a group of Biblical scholars and ask them for their expert opinion, I am guessing that this would be on the top of their list as well. So I feel pretty confident that we could say that “Thou Shall Not Kill” would meet the criterion of being a Risk Assessment Commandment.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the key indicator methodology and attempt to ascertain which of the Ten Commandments would be a key indicator rule. This gets a bit tricky because key indicator rules usually don’t place individuals at severe morbidity or mortality. But the key indicator rules statistically predictor overall rule compliance. So knowing this one Commandment would help us to know who is most likely to abide by all the other Commandments. That is kind of important from a societal point of view because we would like to have a lot of these people as neighbors; it would be like living in Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood. So what do we think could be a good Key Indicator Commandment? Based upon my 50 years of research in producing key indicator rules I would say that “Thou Shall Not Steal” might be a good candidate. I am guessing that there is a deep structure here where a person who is honest is most likely to abide by all Ten Commandments, so it would be an excellent Key Indicator Predictor Commandment. Of course to be certain, we would have to empirically test this hypothesis out which is the cornerstone of the key indicator rule methodology: data utilization.

I hope I have enlightened those of you who may have been somewhat uncertain about the differences between risk assessment rules and key indicator rules. Hopefully this foray into the Biblical literature via the Ten Commandments has helped to make the distinction more clear.

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RegalMetrics Introduction

I have discussed licensing measurement a great deal in this blog. Today, I want to introduce a new term to basically describe what I have been discussing with licensing measurement, called Regulatory Metrics or RegalMetrics for short. The reason for doing this is to be better positioned within the burgeoning new science called Regulatory Science. Licensing may be too delimited in its scope while regulatory science is more all encompassing and I feel will be the new science of rules, regulations, and standards.

The same issues are still present within regulatory metrics as they were in licensing measurement, such as how regulatory compliance data distributions are dramatically skewed with intense kurtosis. How best to deal with nominal measurement data? Do we transform the nominal data to ordinal scales as has been proposed in this blog (January 9th Post) into a Regulatory Compliance Scale to make it more similar to other more normally distributed program quality data distributions? Another way of thinking about this is in having “Licensing Buckets” for “Full, Substantial, Mid, and Low” regulatory compliance levels (see the Post of January 9th). The need for dichotomization of data is warranted because of the skewed data distributions. How best to minimize false positives and false negative decisions regarding the issuing of licenses based upon regulatory compliance scores. And lastly and probably most significant is how to deal with the introduction of mediocrity into fully compliant programs.

This last issue is a major issue for regulatory science regardless of discipline in how best to address the plateau of quality as programs move from substantial to full regulatory compliance. By not addressing this issue will continue to lead to frustration by consumers and the various industries we regulate in not being able to fully reward our outstanding performers because based upon regulatory compliance scores it is difficult to distinguish between these top performers and the mediocre performers. Regulatory science modeling is excellent at distinguishing between fully compliant programs and those that are having real difficulty with regulatory compliance. Where the models break down is distinguishing between programs that are in substantial compliance and full compliance when it comes to any quality dimension. This is what leads to the public wanting deregulation because the rules just don’t seem to make a difference. And then when there is a tragedy, the push for more regulations in order to protect all individuals so that they do not have the same tragedy repeat itself. It is this constant deregulation versus over-regulation mentality that is so counter productive and not driven by good public policy nor empirical data.

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Licensing Measurement/Regulatory Science Course Resources

Below are a series of resources for the licensing measurement/regulatory science course that are organized as anthologies and summarizing information from the RIKI Publications webpage.

1. Class Syllabus: Lists the 13 classes with a brief summary of what is to be covered in each.

2. Articles: the key articles that describe the theory, paradigm, and model.

3. Reports: A book of readings/reports highlighting the key elements in the methodology.

4. Papers: The Washington State blueprint for validation of their monitoring systems.

5. Webinars: The slide deck that describes the overall differential monitoring model.

6. Posters: Eight posters that summarize the model and its key components.

7. Research Notes: A decade of research notes enhancements to the model and system.

8. National/Federal Reports: Several of the key national publications on monitoring.

9. NARA Reports: Specific reports produced by NARA Consultants.

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Regulatory Science, Differential Monitoring, and Licensing Measurement Technical Research Notes Anthology

Attached please find an anthology that contains technical research notes from the past decade on regulatory science, differential monitoring and licensing measurement. I thought it would be helpful to regulatory scientists and licensing researchers to have all these various research notes in one location, so I created this anthology.

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Regulatory Science’s Search for a Program Monitoring Paradigm and Some Key Relationships Between Compliance and Quality in Early Care and Education: A Policy Commentary

Here is a policy commentary manuscript that delineates the key elements or alternate program quality paradigms and their subsequent implications for regulatory compliance measurement and program quality that has been submitted to the Journal of Regulatory Science. This manuscript is intended for other licensing researchers and regulatory scientists as they deal with licensing measurement issues in regulatory science. Hopefully it provides some key parameters to consider as the regulatory science field matures into a full-blown science.

A brief comment about the Journal of Regulatory Science. This relatively new journal, started publishing in 2013, is an excellent forum for those researchers and scientists who are doing regulatory science related research. It is open sourced and encourages scientists from all content disciplines who have an interest in regulatory science to submit their research to the journal. I have been involved in research and publishing for 50 years and this journal and its approach is a breath of fresh air in their openness, attention to detail, and creating a peer review process that makes sense and is timely. I encourage any regulatory science researcher or scientist to check this journal out for sharing their research (

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Improving Child Care Quality Through A Coaching Intervention

This article was published in 2002 in Child and Youth Care Forum. This article built off several studies in Pennsylvania which clearly demonstrated the lack of an effective professional development system, especially involving infant toddler caregivers. The mentoring/coaching intervention as designed and described in this article was revised and enhanced in several other studies to follow in order to address this major gap in the professional development system in Pennsylvania.

These other studies will be described in subsequent posts in which the coaching intervention was utilized by child care health consultants: ECELS-Early Childhood Education Linkage System, was used online: Better Kid Care, and was used as a micro-learning problem solving approach: iLookOut. This line of research helped to complete the Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement and Indicator Model’s quality initiative sector by adding professional development to Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and Accreditation Systems.

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The Use of Contact Hours Rather than Group Size or Adult Child Ratios as a Licensing Metric for Regulatory Compliance

This article was published in 1980 in NARA News as a licensing measurement enhancement. It really grew out of the regulatory compliance need being addressed at the national level with the changes being made in the Federal Interagency Day Care Requirements (FIDCR). There was a concern by many Federal policy makers that the monitoring system was going to be too much of a burden on individual programs in attempting to measure regulatory compliance with the revised FIDCR standards. Interesting this same concern would lead to the development and implementation of the Key Indicator methodology, but more about that in future posts.

For this post, we will just center in on the concerns about how best to measure regulatory compliance with two key rules of the FIDCR: adult child ratios and group size. To measure regulatory compliance with these two rules it was necessary in the past to take painstaking measurements of the number of children and adults at various times during the day in child care programs.

The below article describes a mathematical model “Contact Hours” that can be used as an off-site proxy to determine regulatory compliance without ever stepping foot in a program. There are actually two articles presented here: 1) The original article published in 1980; 2) A 2021 paper based upon the use of the mathematical model in the state of Washington. In this second paper, the Contact Hours mathematical model was enhanced and expanded to deal with potential infection rates in child care programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. State administrators saw it as a solution to determining regulatory compliance without having to make onsite observations which were very restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21. The Contact Hours mathematical model worked very nicely in Washington state determining regulatory compliance but it also helped to target mitigation efforts in programs that were having infection outbreaks based upon particular threshold levels.

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Solution to the Child Care Trilemma

This article appeared in the Child Care Information Exchange in the mid 1990s. In the early part of that decade, Gwen Morgan, one of the pioneers of early care and education (ECE) regulatory science and administration, proposed the child care trilemma. The child care trilemma consists of the delicate balancing act of affordability, accessibility and quality. Dr Morgan’s thesis was that you could not change one without impacting the others and the child care field was having difficulty dealing with the trilemma at that point.

The article presents a proposed solution that alters the conventional wisdom of regulatory science and policy by suggesting to not increase adult child ratios but rather decrease it so that one additional child could be cared for by a very highly qualified teacher (BA/MA in ECE) and the additional revenue brought in by the additional child go directly to this highly qualified teacher as a teaching bonus/salary increase. By utilizing such a solution, it addresses all three components of the trilemma of quality, accessibility and affordability without violating any of them.

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International Study of Child Care Regulations Comparing the USA with Several Other Countries

This article published in the International Journal of Child Care and Educational Policy in 2013 compared the regulatory compliance within the USA with approximately 20 other countries to determine the emphasis placed upon rules and regulations in the respective countries. It is clear from the results that the USA emphasized more structural aspects of rules and regulations dealing with health and safety while the other countries emphasized the professionalization of the teacher in the classroom.

This article also introduced to an international audience the Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement and Indicator Model, now in its 4th edition and its implications with the advent of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems on a large scale in the USA.

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Regulatory Compliance Diminishing Returns

This article published in the Journal of Regulatory Science in 2019 has helped to create an interesting heuristic problematic for the regulatory science field. The essence of the treatise is moving regulatory policy from full compliance with all rules to substantial compliance with all rules and full compliance with specific predictor rules. This is a dramatic departure from regulatory policy that has been promulgated within the regulatory field for the past 100 years.

Because of the regulatory compliance theory of diminishing returns, the following approaches and methodologies of differential monitoring, key indicators for licensing and quality, as well as risk assessment rules have been introduced to the regulatory science field. None of this could have occurred without the introduction of this theory. It has really altered how we approach regulatory compliance from a measurement and program monitoring perspective. The implications of this theory will be further explored in an upcoming post dealing with program monitoring paradigms and the relationship between regulatory compliance and program quality.

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Instrument Based Program Monitoring

This is an article written back in 1985 that really tied licensing measurement together into a quantitative approach of instrument based program monitoring rather than case anecdotal records and proposed the use of key indicators/predictor rules, risk assessment/weighting of rules, and the introduction of differential monitoring which back then was called abbreviated inspections or inferential inspections.

The article appeared in Child Care Quarterly and really did begin to usher in a paradigm shift in licensing measurement and with the introduction of the Theory of Regulatory Compliance the movement from issuing full licenses with 100% regulatory compliance to substantial compliance with all regulations. This article also introduced the Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement and Indicator Model as a means for typing regulatory compliance together with quality initiatives, especially technical assistance, training, and professional development which will be addressed in future posts.

I am hoping to do this with several articles that I think are very pertinent to licensing measurement and post summaries of their particular significance for regulatory science and program monitoring. The hope would be that this new series will help to inform future licensing researchers and regulatory scientists regarding the nuances and idiosyncrasies of licensing measurement and regulatory compliance. As one will see, there are many measurement issues with licensing data and how best to analyze licensing data. This new series really started with the post before this one in which Federal, national, and state reports were listed and presented related to licensing and differential monitoring. The subsequent posts will provide a bit more detail of many topics presented in these various reports. These posts will also provide a backdrop to the National Association for Regulatory Administration’s Licensing Measurement course which is part of their Licensing Curriculum.

As one will see, there is a need within regulatory science to get at the key measurement issues and essence of what is meant by regulatory compliance. There are some general principles that need to be dealt with such as the differences between individual rules and rules in the aggregate. Rules in the aggregate are not equal to the sum of all rules because all rules are not created nor administered equally. And lastly, all rules are to be adhered to, but there are certain rules that are more important than others and need to be adhered to all the time. Less important rules can be in substantial compliance most of the time but important rules must be in full compliance all of the time.

Rules are everywhere. They are part of the human services landscape, economics, banking, sports, religion, etc… Where ever one looks we are governed by rules in one form or another. The key is determining an effective and efficient modality for negotiating the path of least resistance in complying with a given set of rules. It is never about more or less rules, it is about which ones are really productive and which are not. Too many rules stifle creativity, but too few rules lead to chaos. Determining the balance of rules is the goal and solution.

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Federal, National, and State Reports on Licensing and Differential Monitoring

Attached are several examples of Federal, national, and state reports on state of the art licensing and differential monitoring initiatives. These reports have helped to shape the research efforts as we move forward with licensing and differential monitoring in early care and education.

Several Federal agencies are well represented, such as the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, Health and Human Services, USDA, Assistant Secretary’s Office for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation; National Organizations, such as the National Association for Regulatory Administration, National Women’s Law Center, CLASP, BUILD, Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis, and Child Trends; and states, such as Ohio, Minnesota and Illinois.

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A Guide to the Regulatory Compliance Theory of Diminishing Returns and its Implications for Regulatory Science

This blog post will attempt to place the Regulatory Compliance Theory of Diminishing Returns into everyday terms addressing its potential implications beyond the human services and suggest how it can be applied anywhere in which standards/regulations/rules are utilized in the public policy domain.

The Regulatory Compliance Theory of Diminishing Returns was first proposed in the 1970’s when several studies were conducted comparing regulatory compliance with program quality in early care and education programs. These studies were expanded to include other child residential programs and similar results occurred in which a plateau or diminishing return in the levels of program quality & child outcomes were observed as regulatory compliance increased from a substantial level to a full (100%) level. Over the past 50 years, this same result was found when these analyses were performed. See the following article published in the Journal of Regulatory Science for additional details: (

Why is this important from a public policy perspective? It appears from these results that public policies which demand full (100%) regulatory compliance may not be in the best interest of providers nor clients being served. The Regulatory Compliance Theory of Diminishing Returns has implications for all of regulatory science and would apply to any field in which a closed system of standards/rules/regulations are utilized. Therefore, it is being suggested that the theory be applied to other economic systems involving banking, trade, markets, supply/demand chains, etc… that are heavily regulated. When a more open system of standards/rules/regulations are utilized, the diminishing returns effect is less evident because of the introduction of program quality elements into the equation (see RIKI Technical Research Notes on the balance of regulatory compliance and quality as well as regulatory compliance modeling which clearly demonstrates the differences between open and closed systems).

So what would this look like from a program monitoring perspective? Rather than requiring companies, organizations, or agencies to be in full regulatory compliance, it would focus more on substantial compliance with all standards/rules/regulations and full compliance with key indicator standards/rules/regulations that statistically predict overall regulatory full compliance. This would be a more effective and efficient allocation of monitoring resources that would lead to increased outcomes for clients and better management for providers.

The ultimate goal is to obtain the proper balance of regulatory oversight which is not too stringent nor too lax but rather one that focuses on the right (statistical predictors) standards/rules/regulations producing the greatest impact on clients and providers of service.

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A Brief History of Licensing Measurement

The history of licensing measurement and regulatory compliance has actually a rather long lineage but is still in its infancy in terms of development. In the early stages most licensing visits and inspection results were recorded via anecdotal records/case records with the licensing staff recording their results in more social work note taking. It was a qualitative type of measurement with very little quantitative measurement occurring with the exception of basic demographics, number of clients, number of caregiving staff, etc… This qualitative approach worked very well when there were not many programs to be monitored and there were sufficient licensing staff to do the monitoring and conduct the inspections.

This all started to change in the 1980’s when Instrument Based Program Monitoring (IPM) was introduced and started to be adopted by state licensing agencies throughout the United States. Just as a footnote, this brief history is pertinent to the USA and does not include other countries although the Canadian Provinces have followed a similar route as the USA. The reason for the introduction of an IPM approach was the tremendous increase in early care and education programs in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was difficult for licensing staff to keep up with the increased number of programs in their monitoring efforts. There needed to be a more effective and efficient methodology to be employed to deal with these increases.

A very influential paper was written in 1985 and published in Child Care Quarterly which introduced IPM along with Licensing Key Indicators, Risk Assessment (Weighting), and Differential Monitoring (Abbreviated Inspections). This paper outlined the various methodologies and their use by a consortium of states to test the viability of this new approach to licensing measurement, regulatory compliance, and program monitoring. Also, the terminology has changed over the decades. Back in 1985 weighting was used rather than risk, abbreviated inspections were used rather than differential monitoring, targeted monitoring, or inferential monitoring. All these terms can be used interchangeably as they have been over the years, but the first introduction of them back in 1985 utilized weighting and abbreviated inspections.

In the early 1990’s the risk assessment methodology was used to develop Stepping Stones to Caring for Our Children, the comprehensive national health and safety standards for early care and education (ECE) programs in the USA. This was a major development in attempting to develop national voluntary standards for child care in the USA.

It was during this time that two other very significant discoveries occurred related to licensing data distributions: 1) Licensing data are extremely skewed and do not follow a normal curve distribution. This fact has a significant impact on the statistics that can be used with the data distributions and how data analyses are performed. For example, data dichotomization is warranted with licensing data; 2) Regulatory compliance data are not linear when compared to program quality measures but are more plateaued at the substantial and full regulatory compliance levels. The data appear to follow the Law of Diminishing Returns as compliance moves from substantial to full (100%) regulatory compliance. This finding has been replicated in several studies and has been controversial because it has led to the issuing of licenses to programs with less than full compliance with all rules/regulations/standards. These two discoveries have been very influential in tracking developments in licensing measurement since their discoveries.

In the new century as states began to adopt the various methodologies it became necessary to have a standardized approach to designing and implementing them. The National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) took up this role and in 2000 produced a chapter on Licensing Measurement and Systems which helped to guide states/provinces in the valid and reliable means for designing and implementing these methodologies. In 2002 a very important study was conducted by the Assistant Secretary’s Office for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in which they published the Thirteen Indicators of Quality Health and Safety and a Parent’s Guide to go along with the research. This publication further helped states as they revised their licensing and program monitoring systems for doing inspections of early care and education facilities based upon the specific indicators identified in this publication. Both publications have been distributed widely throughout the licensing world.

During the first decade of the new century, Stepping Stones for Caring for Our Children went through a second edition. This publication and the ASPE publications were very useful to states as they prepared their Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) plans based upon Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding.

From 2010 to the present, there have been many major events that have helped to shape licensing measurements for the future. Caring for Our Children Basics (CFOCB) was published and immediately became the default voluntary early care and education standards for the ECE field. The CFOCB is a combination of the risk assessment and key indicator methodologies. Three major publications by the following Federal agencies: HHS/ACF/USDA: Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families/United States Department of Agriculture, OCC: Office of Child Care, and ASPE: Assistant Secretary’s Office for Planning and Evaluation dealing with licensing and program monitoring strategies were published. These publications will guide the field of licensing measurement for years to come. The Office of Head Start developed and implemented their own Head Start Key Indicator (HSKI) methodology. And in 2016, CCDBG was reauthorized and differential monitoring was included in the legislation being recommended as an approach for states to consider.

Most recently, the Office of Head Start is revising their monitoring system that provides a balance between compliance and performance. This system revision will go a long way to enhancing the balance between regulatory compliance and program quality. Also, there has been experimentation with an Early Childhood Program Quality Indicator instrument combining licensing and quality indicators into a single tool. These two developments help with breaking down the silo approach to measurement where licensing and quality initiatives are administered through separate and distinct approaches such as licensing versus professional development systems versus quality rating and improvement systems. A paradigm shift in which an Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement and Indicator Model is proposed. The paradigm shift should help to make licensing measurement more integrated with other quality initiatives.

The licensing field continues to make refinements to its measurement strategies in building a national/international regulatory compliance data base. More and more is being learned about the nuances and idiosyncrasies of licensing data, such as moving from a nominal to an ordinal driven data system. For example, NARA and the Research Institute of Key Indicators (RIKI) have entered into an exclusive agreement for the future development of licensing measurement strategies via differential monitoring, key indicators for licensing and program quality, and risk assessment approaches. Several validation studies have been completed in testing whether the various methodologies work as intended. A significant Office of Program Research and Evaluation (OPRE) Research Brief which developed a framework for conducting validation studies for quality rating and improvement systems has been adapted to be used in licensing measurement.

For additional updates to licensing measurement, please check out and follow these RIKINotes Blog posts. There are and will be many examples of licensing measurement enhancements. Also, although much of the research on licensing measurement has been completed in the ECE field, the methodologies, models, systems, and approaches can be utilized in any human service arena, such as child residential or adult residential services. Also, NARA’s chapter in their Licensing Curriculum has been developed into a full blown course, please go to the following web page for additional information:

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Key Indicator Model Statistics and Algorithms

A technical research note is provided for other licensing researchers and statisticians who are interested in replicating the methodology through the use of a alternate statistical software package, such as SPSS, Systat or SAS. The research note provides all the background statistics and algorithms for the generation of a Key Indicator Matrix and results.

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KIM (Key Indicator Matrix) and RAM (Risk Assessment Matrix) Matrices Integration Into One Platform

This technical research note will integrate the Key Indicator Matrix (KIM) and the Risk Assessment Matrix (RAM) into one platform to clearly demonstrate their statistical modeling overlap.  Key Indicators deal with the ability to predict overall compliance or performance based on existing data.  Risk Assessment Indicators do not predict but determine a risk score based upon prevalence and severity measures.  Their purposes are different but when integrated together the two matrices are a powerful tool in determining the health of the measured entity.   

The below matrix integrates the two matrices of KIM and RAM and shows that KIM scores are generally at the lower end of risk but having sufficient prevalence when it comes to non-compliance.  RAM scores have a larger variance and are most concerning at the higher end of the continuum. 

KIM x RAM Matrices 

KIM Low Group High Group  Severity: 
Compliance 1 2 Low 
Non-Compliance 4 5 Medium 
Prevalence: Low Medium High RAM 
For additional information about this matrix, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr Fiene at or

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Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement/Indicator Model Version5 and the Latest Version of Licensing Measurement Slides

Here are two documents, one, a technical research note on the latest version of the Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement/Indicator Model (V5)(ECPQIM5a) and two, a powerpoint slide presentation on Licensing Measurement (PPT189).

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New Land Use Study in Kenya utilizing the Theory of Regulatory Compliance

Attached to this post is a new land use study completed in Kenya utilizing the Theory of Regulatory Compliance. It was published in the International Journal of Human Capital in Urban Management: Planning implication of universities growth on land use: Confirmatory evidence from GIS spatial analysis, by W.O.Omollo, Department of Planning and Development, Kisii University, Kenya.


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Universities have customarily been seen as agents of development in the regions they serve owing to their roles of teaching, research, innovation and community extension. There is however a dearth of knowledge on how they influence land use change with a specific reference to compliance with planning standards. This paper therefore through a case study investigates the impacts that the growth of Kisii University has on land use change in Nyamage, a neighbourhood where it is situated within Kisii Municipality, Kenya. It subsequently links the observed change to compliance with planning standards.

METHODS: Guided by the theory of regulatory compliance, the study adopted a case study research design with a sample size of 226 drawn from 577 developments in Nyamage. Spatial data on land use change was collected using satellite images from Google Earth covering three epochs of 2005, 2014 and 2021. Analysis was undertaken using GIS. Data investigating compliance with planning standards were conversely collected using an observation checklist, land survey maps and analyzed using a one-sample t-test and paired t-test.

FINDINGS: The study established that in 2005, forest, short vegetation, transitional and built-up areas respectively covered 17%, 39%, 34% and 11%. These by 2021 correspondingly changed by 46%, -10%, -29% and 57% for the forest, short vegetation, transitional and built-up areas. The latter recorded the highest land use change, a condition mainly credited to the hostels built by private developers in an attempt to meet a demand created by students who could not find accommodation within the university. Research findings further disclosed that developments around the university were not complying with the planning standards used in regulating plot sizes, building coverage ratio and road reserves, leading to land use conflicts.

CONCLUSION: The establishment and growth of Kisii University have remarkably influenced land use change, which in the absence of development control contributes to the disregard of planning standards. This is because the government mainly sees universities as an avenue for spurring regional economic growth with less attention on their spatial implications. These findings may enlighten policy-making institutions with critical information for effective planning and development control around universities. The study also fills a gap that hitherto existed on the nexus between land use change and compliance with planning standards as relates to the growth of universities. It additionally enlightens the international audience on how the impacts of universities growth on land use may be evaluated through a triangulation of spatial and statistical approaches.

KEYWORDS: Development control; Kisii Municipality; Land use change; Planning standards; Universities

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The Latest Controversy in ECE: Failure of Pre-K and We’re Surprised?

I have been reading about the Tennessee Study regarding their Pre-K program and their lack of success. Unfortunately, the goals of the program to help very disadvantaged children gain and sustain those gains overtime did not come to fruition according to the study authors. The latest findings are no surprise and have been demonstrated in many other previous studies involving large scale early care and education (ECE) interventions. However, are we designing the wrong interventions and measuring the wrong aspects of development. Play is and has always been the paramount intervention strategy in early care and education programs. But when we design and implement Pre-K we seem to be more concerned about academics and forget about the need for children to play. Curriculum is critical but the curriculum should be based upon developmentally appropriate practices and child development principles, and it should be play based and not academically focused.

When we are thinking about curriculum and assessment, do we need to shift the paradigm in which assessment comes before the curriculum intervention. Shouldn’t the curriculum be driven by each individual child’s specific strengths and areas needing improvement. Having a more individualistic approach based upon the needs of the child which helps us to better solve the “problem of the match”. There needs to be a more synergistic relationship between assessment and curriculum development and implementation.

The next area that is paramount are the overall qualities of the teachers. Teachers need to have a degree in early care and education and not in elementary education or any other degree that is not child development focused. It can be either an AA or BA degree, ideally an MA but that is probably unrealistic and too costly. But it must be in ECE. In the medical profession you don’t want podiatrists doing heart surgery; same thing in ECE, we want ECE teachers teaching in ECE classrooms.

It has become really clear from Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) that parent involvement and engagement is a key factor for overall ECE quality and positive child development outcomes. Without parental engagement, 75% of what needs to be accomplished is lost. And the environment that children are spending their days in ECE classrooms needs to be language rich and high quality exchange rates between teachers and children at a verbal level. Real exchange of meaningful dialogue and not commands that are uni-directional from teacher to child; but a real give and take between the child and the teacher. More of a dance rather than regimented marching.

And lastly, Pre-K should not be a separate program but rather one that is integrated with Head Start and child care classrooms. Pre-K classrooms should be part of Head Start classrooms and child care classrooms. We need to break down these structural barriers and have all children fully integrated and not in separate silos based upon funding streams.

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Introducing the Theory of Regulatory Compliance to Neoclassical Economic Theory: Moving from a Linear to a Non-Linear Paradigm

In a previous RIKINote (4-8-2018), linear and non-linear models were discussed on a very broad scale. In this note, the Theory of Regulatory Compliance is being suggested as a non-linear paradigm to the dominant neoclassical economic theory and the linear mathematical modeling of econometrics.

The Theory of Regulatory Compliance is based upon several empirical studies conducted in the human services which states that the relationship between regulatory compliance and program quality is not a linear relationship when comparing the upper ends of the compliance x quality continuum. The relationship between regulatory compliance and program quality is linear at the lower end of the continuum when one is looking at non-optimal regulatory compliance up to a mediocre level of regulatory compliance. But once substantial regulatory compliance and full (100%) regulatory compliance are attained, there is a plateau or diminishing return effect when it comes to corresponding program quality levels. In other words, from an outcomes perspective, it is not a worthwhile use of resources to be in full regulatory compliance as versus substantial regulatory compliance. This result has been demonstrated in several studies in the human services field across the USA and Canada.

Why is this an important finding? Because there has always been an assumption that regulatory compliance is a linear variable. But based upon the Theory of Regulatory Compliance, it appears that it is truly a non-linear variable and it would change any mathematical equation within econometrics that introduces regulatory analysis. This could go a long way in explaining many of the disparities in pricing regulations and supply/demand economics where regulations are heavily represented. Could the econometric mathematical modeling be more finely tuned by adding a non-linear paradigm to the formula generation via regulatory compliance?

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Regulatory Compliance Scale

This blog post will propose a new Regulatory Compliance Scale (RCS)(Fiene, 2022) which should help in making comparisons between regulatory compliance and program quality systems, such as Environmental Rating Scales and Quality Rating & Improvement systems. The proposed scale builds off of a familiar 1-7 Likert scale that has been used a good deal in the early care and education field within program quality instruments/tools. This scale is based upon 40+ years of research into regulatory compliance data distributions which have been reported in this blog (RIKINotes) over the years.

The proposed scale (see RCS Table below) has the following structure of full compliance, substantial compliance, mediocre compliance, and low/non-optimal compliance. Numerically it is proposed that full compliance = 0 no rule violations; substantial compliance = 1-3 rule violations; mediocre compliance = 4-9 rule violations; and low/non-optimal compliance = 10+ rule violations. The transformation to a 1-7 Likert scale is as follows: full compliance = 7; substantial compliance = 5; mediocre compliance = 3; and low/non-optimal compliance = 1.

When the above regulatory compliance scale is utilized it substantially reduces the skewness and kurtosis in the regulatory compliance data distribution which is a major problem with all regulatory compliance data distributions and has been reported repeatedly in the human services licensing research literature. The revised or transformed data distribution begins to approach a more normally distributed data set; albeit, not as normally distributed as the various Environmental Rating Scales but significantly better when straight frequency counts are used in determining regulatory compliance. This has been the preferred means of data recording since the introduction of Instrument-based Program Monitoring (IPM) in the 1980’s. It is being proposed that the above Regulatory Compliance Scale (RCS)(Fiene, 2022) be used in place of this frequency based data system.

This newly proposed scale should go a long way in making future analyses in utilizing regulatory compliance data more useful and meaningful when making comparisons with the various program quality initiatives present in the early care and education field, such as the Environmental Rating Scales and Quality Rating & Improvement Systems.

RCSDefinitions/LevelsRule Violations
7Full 100% Compliance0 Violations
5Substantial Compliance1-3 Violations
3Mediocre Compliance4-9 Violations
1Low/Non-Optimal Compliance10+ Violations
Regulatory Compliance Scale (RCS)(Fiene, 2022)
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Caring for Our Children

The major publications surrounding Caring for Our Children dealing with risk assessment and key indicators along with their respective checklists/tools. Each of the publications are listed here for your convenience.

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NRCKids “A Parent’s Guide to Choosing Safe and Healthy Child Care”

Here is the July 2019 National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education Guide for parents in choosing safe and healthy child care. It is a really nice checklist that should help parents in comparing their child care options. There is space for entering key indicator information for three child care programs.

I have also attached a draft of a tool (Early Learning and Child Care Program Quality Key Indicator Instrument) I helped the Ministry of Education in the Province of Saskatchewan develop based upon quality indicators that I thought would be of interest as well to both parents and to ECE professionals. By using both of these guides, one has key indicators drawn from over 40 years of research into ECE licensing and program quality key indicators.

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Caring for Our Children Basics: A Brief History of Early Care and Education Standards and their Monitoring in the United States (USA) 

It all started in and around 1965 when the Federal government got into early care and education (ECE) in earnest with Head Start and federally funded day care for low-income families.  It started off slowly but began to pick up momentum with exciting studies and research applying principles from developmental psychology to policy making.  Researchers and policy makers wanted to make sure that these new programs were not detrimental to young children since our frame of reference were children being raised in orphanages and the ultimate outcome for children was not positive.  Would ECE have the same impact? 

Issues around quality, appropriateness of standards, and demonstration programs became the focal point of federal research funding.  The focal point of this essay is on the appropriateness of the ECE standards and the resulting monitoring systems that were to become key to the federal involvement in early care and education.   This essay will be organized by the following 50 years neatly broken out by each decade to get us from this beginning in 1965 until the publication of Caring for Our Children Basics in 2015 by the federal government, the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  A look at the 2020 decade with a future note is also appended to this essay. 


During the 1970’s, the federal government became concerned about what were to be the standards for this new national program related to federally funded ECE for low-income families and their children.  Head Start was a separate entity and we will revisit Head Start later but our focus for now is on the federally funded programs which became known back then generically as day care.  This nomenclature changed to child care and to finally early care and education (ECE) during this 50-year history.  The initial standards for day care were the Federal Interagency Day Care Requirements (FIDCR).  A very large appropriateness research study led by Abt Associates to determine what were the most salient standards and their intended impact on children while in day care was conducted during this decade.  These standards were to be federally mandated requirements for any program receiving federal funding.   This is where group size and adult-child ratios standards became such important safeguards and surrogates for children’s health and safety in day care programs. 

It also became of interest for the federal government to design the monitoring system that would determine compliance with the FIDCRs.  But it became clear to the original designers of this new system that the monitoring of the FIDCR was going to be difficult to do across the full USA.  So, the question became, is there a way to monitor the standards in the most effective and efficient manner?  This question and the future of the FIDCR were to be altered and put on hold once we moved into the next decade.  


A change in federal administration and a resulting change in philosophy related to the federal role in America altered many things and one of them was the relationship of the federal government and the states.  Rather than the federal government mandating day care requirements, the focus changed with the locus of control moving from the federal level to the state level via block grant funding with very few federal requirements.  This meant a moratorium to FIDCR and its ultimate demise.  The federal government was not going to be in the business of providing day care, this was going to be the jurisdiction of the states.  Head Start did become the exception to this rule with its own standards and monitoring system. 

The focus of federal funding switched from the national to the state level in determining compliance with each state’s respective child care licensing rules and not with an overarching FIDCR.  There was still interest in making these state monitoring systems as effective and efficient but there was no interest in the federal government determining what these requirements would be.  Two monitoring approaches grew out of this need for effectiveness and efficiency:  risk assessment and key indicators.    These two approaches were originally designed and implemented as part of a federally funded project called the Children’s Services Monitoring Transfer Consortium in which a group of five states: New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and California teamed up to explore their most effective and efficient monitoring systems and begin transferring these systems to one another and beyond. 

These two monitoring approaches were tested in the above respective states and it was determined that their impact had a positive effect on the children who were in those day care centers.  This was a major finding, similar to the FIDCR appropriateness study, in which these approaches provided safeguards related to the health and safety of children while in day care.   


By the 1990s, it became clear that the federal government had pretty much drawn back from any leadership role in having mandated federal requirements when it came to health and safety in child care.  It was left to national ECE advocates who were positioned within the federal government (Administration for Children and Families; Maternal and Child Health Bureau) as well as throughout the USA with national and state agencies and organizations (American Academy of Pediatrics; American Public Health Association, National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care) that saw a need for child care health and safety recommendations at least.  If we could not have requirements, we could at least have recommendations and provide guidance to child care programs throughout the USA. 

This led to the first edition of Caring for Our Children which was a comprehensive set of child care health and safety standards.  It was a major game changer for the ECE field because now there was a universal set of standards based upon the latest research literature for states to use as they considered revising and updating their respective state licensing child care rules.   

But there was a problem.  Caring for Our Children was a comprehensive set of health and safety standards which was their strength but at the same time it was their weakness.  They were so comprehensive (well over 500 well researched standards) that they were intimidating and it was difficult to determine where to begin for the states. 

Several researchers remembered the two approaches to monitoring designed in the previous decade and wondered if they could be helpful in focusing or targeting which of the standards were the most critical/salient standards.  The risk assessment approach to monitoring appeared to have the most immediate applicability and Stepping Stones to Caring for Our Children was born.  This document clearly articulated which of the 500+ Caring for Our Children standards placed children at greatest risk for mortality or morbidity by not being in compliance with the respective standard.  Since the early 1990s, Caring for Our Children and Stepping Stones to Caring for Our Children have gone through three editions and have become very important resources to state licensing agencies as they revise, update and improve their ECE rules. 


In this decade several federal and national organizations began to use Caring for Our Children standards in innovative ways to measure how well ECE looked at a national level.  The Assistant Secretary’s Office for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the Thirteen Indicators of Quality Child Care based upon a core set of predictor standards from Caring for Our Children.  These were standards that predicted overall compliance with all the standards and were seen as an efficient monitoring system.  NACCRRA (National Association for Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies) began publishing a national report card on how well states met specific standards and monitoring protocols based upon similar predictor standards from Caring for Our Children

These efforts helped states to make significant changes in their ECE rules in their respective states and in a very voluntary way suggested a means for national standards for the ECE field although we would need to wait until the next decade in order to see such a published document of national ECE health and safety standards for early care and education:  Caring for Our Children Basics


By the 2010s, ECE had grown into a very large but unwieldly assortment of programs with varying levels of quality.  Again because of major federal funding, the Child Care Development Block Grant, along with changes and enhancements in professional development, accreditation systems, quality rating and improvement systems, the ECE landscape had become more complex and less easy to navigate.  And rather than coming together it was clearly more fragmented than ever. 

We had very minimal requirements for the federal funding and most of these requirements were geared to the state agency using the state’s respective licensing rules as the threshold for standards.  This approach worked well with states with excellent licensing rules, but it wasn’t working as well with states who did not have equally excellent licensing rules.  We still did not have a core set of standards for ECE programs.  Enter Caring for Our Children Basics which took the best aspects of the above two monitoring approaches, risk assessment and key indicators and molded it into this new document.  This work was led by the federal government’s Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and although the standards are still recommendations and guidance, it is our best attempt at having national standards for early care and education.  It is an attempt to provide guidance to the full ECE field, child care, Head Start, preschool, and center based as well as home-based care.  It would be nice to have Caring for Our Children Basics as the health and safety foundation for early care and education throughout the USA.  I don’t see this happening in my lifetime. 

2020s: Looking to the Future 

As a footnote to this essay, the new decade has been dealt with a major curve ball with COVID19 rearing its ugly head and ECE has been impacted greatly because of this pandemic.  As of this writing we are nowhere closer to a solution to getting ECE programs back on line.  If anything, the pandemic really demonstrated the fragility of the ECE system we have built over the past 50 years and it clearly has not done very well.  My hope is that we can learn from the past 50 years and not continue another 50 years along the same route; although I am guessing that many ECE advocates would be glad to have what we had before the pandemic because what we have right non-sustainable.  We know a lot more today than what we knew back in 1965 when we were worried about would day care hurt children’s development.  We know today that quality ECE benefits children but unfortunately, we are no closer to attaining this today than we were 50 years ago. 

Two programs that have been very successful in avoiding these pitfalls are Head Start and the national Military Child Care program.  Both programs are exemplary examples of quality early care and education being provided with separate funding streams and standards.  Interesting enough when the Administration for Children and Families published Caring for Our Children Basics, both these programs were part of the reach of the published standards.  As we re-invent and re-structure ECE we should be looking to both these very successful programs for guidance. 

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Program Monitoring Technical Research Notes related to Regulatory Compliance and Quality Key Elements

Two technical research notes dealing with a paradigm shift related to program monitoring and its subsequent impact on regulatory compliance and quality. These research notes help to develop the key elements, principles, and dimensions when thinking about designing and implementing program monitoring systems.

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Saskatchewan and Florida Differential Monitoring Projects

Attached below are two reports from Saskatchewan and Florida which delineate their respective experiences with developing differential monitoring systems.

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Key Regulatory Compliance, Early Care & Education, Licensing Measurement, Program Monitoring Publications

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Licensing Measurement Paradigm Considerations: Performance Assessments, Regulatory Compliance Modeling, Risk Assessment and Weighting

Below is a series of technical research notes dealing with licensing measurement paradigm considerations involving performance assessments, regulatory compliance modeling, risk assessment and weighting. It provides some of the latest thinking related to regulatory compliance and performance assessments as a monitoring continuum rather than as two separate assessments systems.

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RIKI Technical Research Note on the Licensing Key Indicator Predictor Methodology Threshold Updates, Regulatory Compliance, False Positives & Negatives, Data Dichotomization, and Licensing Measurement

Here are two papers dealing with the licensing key indicator predictor methodology, regulatory compliance and licensing management that help to round out some of the latest research in regulatory science utilizing an international database from the Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement & Indicator Model (ECPQI2M). The reader will find some key metrics/parameters related to licensing measurement, especially in the second paper.

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NARA to Offer New Course on Licensing Measurement

Starting this Fall 2021, NARA – National Association for Regulatory Administration in conjunction with the Research Institute for Key Indicators (RIKI) will be offering a new course, Licensing Measurement and Systems. The course is being developed by Dr Richard Fiene, Penn State Professor of Psychology (ret) & NARA Senior Research Consultant. Here are a couple of summary comments about the course:

This course will provide the learner with the major tenets of licensing measurement. The learner will discover as they go through the course that measurement in licensing is very different than other measurement systems found in many of the various social and human services. It has some very unique and idiosyncratic aspects which will provide us with increasing challenges in coming up with specific metrics in determining regulatory compliance.

The field of regulatory science is a very young field. Although regulations have been kicking around for well over 100 years, the science behind regulations is probably a quarter of this time. So there is not a great deal of empirical evidence to draw upon which is discouraging but it is very encouraging and exciting at the same time because so much needs to be accomplished in establishing regulatory science’s theory.

Check back periodically on this website ( or go to NARA’s website at: (

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RIKI and NARA Renew their Exclusive Licensing Key Indicator Agreement for another 5 Years

This past January 2021, the National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) and the Research Institute for Key Indicators (RIKI) renewed their exclusive licensing key indicator agreement for 5 additional years. The new agreement has several interesting enhancements. Probably the most significant is the creation of a new course on Licensing Measurement that Dr Fiene will be developing for NARA to be offered through their website. The course will be fully self-contained and self-paced for the learner. It will be offered exclusively through the NARA website on their Facilitated Dialogues Web Page (

The renewed agreement continues the successive steps in transferring the differential monitoring, risk assessment and key indicator methodologies from RIKI to NARA so that NARA will become the sole owner and licensor of these methodologies.

Look for updates on this website as well as on NARA’s website regarding the new Licensing Measurement course.

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Academia Discussants Additional Papers

Here is the series of regulatory compliance and performance papers organized into an anthology for easy reading. I included the original paper as reference but after that paper all the other papers support and add to this original paper. Also, pay particular attention to the last paper presentation where a performance assessment matrix is introduced.

Feel free to either comment here or on the Academia Discussant Area.

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Rule Compliance Versus Rule Performance

Here is a short paper addressing the issue of rule compliance and rule performance which is being discussed a good deal in regulatory science circles. The paper addresses some of the major measurement principles of regulatory compliance, licensing and monitoring systems and their subsequent measurement parameters.

This short paper is part of the RIKI Technical Research Note Series maintained at the Research Institute for Key Indicators.

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Child Care Aware of America’s Licensing Benchmark Project

Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) has published a very significant new publication: The Child Care Licensing Benchmark Project building on the very important work they have been doing over the past 15-20 years related to child care center and home licensing standards at the state level (State Report Cards). This latest project and publication takes that work to the next level. It clearly highlights the importance of Caring for Our Children Basics, the voluntary national standards for health and safety in child care programs.

Here is a copy of the publication:

I encourage individuals to go to CCAoA’s website for additional information regarding this very important and significant project.

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A Treatise on Essential Early Care and Education

Here is a proposal for a new approach for reinventing early care and education in the post COVID19 Pandemic era. It is very controversial but one that needs to be put on our radar screen.

After being in the early care and education (ECE) field for approximately a half century, I want to propose a radical departure from how we have designed our ECE systems. Many national organizations have been suggesting that we take this time because of the COVID19 pandemic and rethink how we want to bring ECE back online building a newer and better system. We do have a unique opportunity to do this since we have lost approximately 25% of ECE as of this writing. However, I am sure what I am about to suggest is not what many of my ECE colleagues had in mind.

It is ironic because what I am proposing is very similar to an idea I had and even proposed to a federal agency practically 50 years ago. It starts with rank ordering the need of ECE and thinking of offering ECE only on an essential basis. By essential I mean for those parent(s) who only really need and want to have ECE services. For those who do not, let’s pay them a stipend to stay at home with their child(ren). And this can be either mom or dad. I have not had the opportunity to run the numbers, but I am guessing that my suggestion of providing stay at home stipends could be paid for by the reduction in total need for ECE services since we would definitely see a reduction in the total need for ECE as it relates to out-of-home care. So this could be a cost neutral program.

So rather than trying to replace the 25% we have lost in ECE programs and replacing them with a higher quality version, let’s totally think outside-the-box and ask parents if they really want those services or would they prefer to stay at home and raise their children in their own homes. The remaining 75% of ECE programs still will need a quality booster-shot because by best estimates prior to the COVID19 pandemic, only 10% of ECE programs were of a high-quality level.

I know that this is a radical departure from our present thinking both within the ECE advocacy community and I am sure within political circles, but maybe this is exactly the type of proposal we need to reinvent ECE. I know this is not going to be a popular idea but I want to get us thinking more broadly because the thinking so far appears to be centered on fixing an already broken system but mostly staying within the confines of that broken system. Let’s really reinvent ourselves and ask parents what they want and need rather than ECE “experts” trying to make this decision for them.

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Using Science for Formulating ECE Public Policy

Here are three examples (all dealing with staff to child ratios) of using science in an innovative way to help formulate and guide early care and education (ECE) policy and standards/rules/regulations.

-> The use of developmental play patterns in determining staff child ratios. When caring for young children, toddlers are the most difficult to care for in groups. The reason being that toddlers do not form cohesive groups but rather engage in “herding” behavior. These “herds” are difficult to corral because of short attention spans and parallel play. So, does it make sense when promulgating standards that we reduce the relative size of the group and have fewer children to the teaching staff. Generally staff to child ratios are based upon the chronological age rather than the developmental age or developmental play patterns of the children.

-> In addressing the trilemma of child care (affordability, quality, accessibility) is it possible to alter the staff child ratio for those individual classrooms where we have a very highly qualified teacher (BA or MA in ECE) and increase the staff child ratio by one child. The increased tuition that comes with the extra child being enrolled would translate into a salary increase for the very highly qualified teacher in that respective classroom. In so doing, we address affordability, accessibility and quality in one fell swoop.

-> In determining staff child ratio compliance with the specific number of children to teaching staff in a group or classroom try utilizing a new metric called “contact hours”. “Contact hours” determines the number of children in a classroom or group setting and looks at that group with the number of teaching staff present over time. By asking 6 very basic questions, it is possible to calculate the area of a trapezoid to determine via this new metric “contact hours” if the group or classroom is in compliance or not with the specific staff child ratio for the respective age group by the area of the trapezoid. The other intriguing aspect of “contact hours” is that it can be calculated remotely or virtually without needing to do on site observations.

These are just three examples of how we can begin to use science to help us determine empirically how best to design and implement ECE standards/rules/regulations. If you are interested in any of these three examples, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I can provide additional documentation.

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Contact Hour COVID19 Infection Rate Threshold Grid

Several previous posts presented a new contact hour metric for measuring compliance with staff child ratios and for monitoring potential COVID19 infection rates. However, a conversion table had only been proposed for the staff child ratios but not for the potential COVID19 infection rates. This post provides that conversion table. It will still require additional data to confirm its efficacy but at least it provides some guidance in looking at the relationship between the number of individuals present and the exposure time.

Here is the Technical Research Note and the original paper it is an addition to:

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Mitigating the Limitations of the Regulatory Compliance Law of Diminishing Returns

A program quality enhancement is presented in the following Technical Research Note which should help to mitigate the limitations of the regulatory compliance law of diminishing returns. It has been noted that there is a ceiling/plateau effect when comparing regulatory compliance to program quality scores. The attached model provides an enhancement that may be a means for alleviating these limiting effects and rebuilds the relationship in a stepped fashion which moves regulatory compliance and program quality from a non-linear to a linear trajectory.

Here is the Technical Research Note and the original paper it is updating:

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NARA Webinar this week on their Key Indicator Methodology

Here is the link to register for NARA’s Webinar on their Licensing Key Indicator Methodology which will be aired on October 28th:

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NARA Webinar on Licensing Key Indicator Rules

Dr Fiene will be doing a NARA Webinar on Licensing Key Indicator Rules on October 28th from 1:00 – 2:00pm.

Here are some concepts that Dr Fiene will cover in the Webinar contained in the attached file below:

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Key Indicator Webinar Will be Offered This Fall 2020

NARA will be doing a Licensing Key Indicator Webinar this Fall 2020. Many of the NARA Seminar participants were asking about this. A date has not been established, but it should be announced by NARA in the coming month or so. Be on the look out. For those of you who would like an introduction, please see the following flyer about Licensing Key Indicators:

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Some Takeaways from the NARA Licensing Seminar

There have been several very interesting discussions at the NARA Licensing Seminar that are worth sharing. Here are some takeaways from the various sessions that need highlighting. These highlighted items are pertinent to all human services and not just to early care and education programs and they have a definite monitoring slant:

  1. Virtual inspections will be of tremendous interest in the foreseeable future in how jurisdictions conduct licensing and monitoring reviews of programs.
  2. Outcome validation studies will need to be completed in the licensing field to ultimately determine if clients are truly in a safe and healthy setting.
  3. In doing virtual inspections, is a Key Indicator (KI) or Risk Assessment (RA) approach, which targets specific rules based upon predicting overall regulatory compliance and risk, a better approach than attempting to do comprehensive reviews. In other words, should (KI + RA) be used as a remote screener for more in-depth reviews where rule infractions have been found.
  4. Limitations about the term “Compliance” and its negative connotations and short changing of programs. This is missing the point, the issue is not “compliance” but rather having “standards that are not high enough”. This has been clearly documented in the Regulatory Compliance Law of Diminishing Returns. This concept will be further developed in future RIKINote Blogs.

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National Meetings and Panels During the Month of September

During a two week time frame (Sept 7 – 21), Dr Fiene has had the opportunity to present and discuss pressing issues within early care and education related to COVID19.

The Virtual NARA Licensing Seminar

CCEEPRC Use of Licensing Data

Expert Licensing Panel hosted by the National Center for Early Childhood Quality Assurance

COVID19 Early Childhood Expert Panel hosted by the National Center for Early Childhood Health and Wellness

The Role of Licensing in Early Care and Education Technical Expert Panel

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Presentation at the NARA Licensing Seminar on Validation of Key Indicators and Risk Assessment in the State of Washington and the Province of Saskatchewan

Next week on November 14th, 2020 Dr Fiene will be joining Dr Sonya Stevens from the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families; and Kim Taylor and Derek Pardy from the Province of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education to do a presentation on their respective Validation Studies. The Validation Studies are demonstrating the efficiency and effectiveness of the Key Indicator and Risk Assessment methodologies as they are applied in licensing early care and education programs by using a differential monitoring approach.

Below is the slide deck that will be used for the presentation.

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Presentation Made in the State of Washington by Stevens & Fiene on New Contact Hour Metric for Tracking COVID19 Infections in Child Care Centers

Here is a presentation that Drs Fiene and Stevens did last month to senior leadership in the Department of Children, Youth, and Families in the State of Washington. The presentation highlighted the encouraging results from a pilot study conducted in Washington’s Early Care and Education programs by Dr Stevens utilizing the new Contact Hour metric proposed by Fiene. The new metric is being proposed as an innovative virtual/remote measurement strategy to monitor COVID19 infection rates by tracking exposure time, density, and spacing in child care centers.

Here is a copy of the presentation and paper:

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Campus Tycoons Having A Positive Impact

Here is a wonderful example of how students are making a positive impact. I have posted about Pandemic Analytics in a previous post after learning about their work with schools and businesses. But what really catches your attention in this latest article is the commitment of the team at Pandemic Analytics.

As a research psychologist and professor of psychology, I spent a great deal of time working with students similar to the team at Pandemic Analytics and whenever I read about how they want to have a positive impact, I am so encouraged that our future will be in good hands.

Take a minute to read the following article (Link or pdf) about what I feel are some of the best and brightest:

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National Association for Regulatory Administration’s 2020 Virtual Licensing Seminar, Sept 14-16, 2020

2020 Virtual Licensing Seminar

September 14-16

NARA presents this year’s concurrent session schedule for the 2020 Virtual Licensing Seminar! This year we’re featuring great conversations centered on the great work that you all do. Check out the sessions highlighted below and register today.

Monday, Sept. 14

Concurrent Session A [1:45 – 2:45pm ET]

Validation Studies of Licensing Key Indicator Rules and Risk Assessment Rules: State of Washington and the Province of Saskatchewan
Presented by: Rick Fiene, Sonya Stevens, Kim Taylor, Derek Pardy

Establishing Collaborative Relationships in Early Child Care
Presented by: Sharon Woodward

The Joint Commission Behavioral Health Accreditation – QRTP Accreditation Implementation
Presented by: Mary Louise Wei, Colette Bukowski

Piloting a New Bridge to Quality
Presented by: Nakilia McCray, Shannon Carroll

Monday, Sept. 14

Concurrent Session B [3:00 – 4:00pm ET]

Keeping Children Safe: Trends in Child Care Licensing
Presented by: Sheri Fischer, Tara Orlowski

Licensing and Enforcement in the 21st Century – Innovation, Collaboration, and Data
Presented by: Tyler M Farmer, Sonya Stevens, Judy Bunkleman

Assisted Living Regulations During a Pandemic
Presented by: Margie Zelenak

Licensing’s Role In Supporting the Reduction of Suspension & Expulsion
Presented by: Amy Page, Alexa Watkins

Tuesday, Sept. 15

Concurrent Session C [12:30 – 1:30pm ET]

Effective Strategies to Regulated Assisted Living Providers
Presented by: Alfred C. Johnson

Working Together to Advance Quality
Presented by: Tara Lynne Orlowski, Ed.D., co-presenters TBA

The Quality Connection: Connecting the Dots for Continuous Quality Improvement
Presented by: Iko Ezell-Blackmon, Catherine Broussard

Remote Inspections: Protecting Health and Safety in Emergency Situations
Presented by: Ron Melusky, Alisa Hendrickson

Tuesday, Sept. 15

Concurrent Session D [3:00 – 4:00pm ET]

How Stakeholder Collaboration Drives Successful Outcomes for Technology Implementations
Presented by: Michelle Thomas, Martin Bing

Using Licensing Data to Understand Connections Within Early Care and Education
Presented by: Nina Johnson, Kelly Maxwell, Simon Bolivar, Michele Adams

Utilizing Trauma Informed Care Principles in Licensing Inspections
Presented by: Donna Sabo, Joyce Debolt

Coming Together in the Time of COVID
Presented by: panelists TBA

Wednesday, Sept. 16

Concurrent Session E [1:45 – 2:45pm ET]

Putting the Pieces Together
Presented by: Michele Adams, Jeanne VanOrsdal

Measuring Workforce Competency
Presented by: Tara Lynne Orlowski, Ed.D., Ryan A. Wilke, Ph.D.

An Approach to Tackling Unlicensed Child Care
Presented by: April Rogers, Tahishe Smith

Social Distancing and On-site Inspections – Defining the New Normal
Presented by: Mark Parker

For more details on each session, check out NARA’s website.

View the Seminar Schedule-at-a-Glance online.

Register today

NARA has been my professional go-to organization for over 20 years. The availability of knowledge from its members, issue papers, credential, and products has been invaluable. I am looking forward to this year’s Seminar, and while I will miss the in-person networking and seeing friends from across the country, I am honored to be part of an organization that is supporting its membership with this free learning opportunity. Debby Russo, NARA Board Member

Questions? Contact

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!
National Association for Regulatory Administration400 South Fourth Street, Suite 754E
Minneapolis, MN 55415
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Updated Health and Safety Briefs from the National Center for Early Childhood Quality Assurance

The National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance (ECQA Center) is pleased to share an updated series of briefs about the health and safety training topics required in the 2016 Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Program Final Rule for all child care providers that receive payment from the CCDF subsidy program.

Licensing and CCDF administrators may find these briefs helpful as they consider revisions to standards for both licensed and license-exempt providers. These briefs may also be useful in developing health and safety guidelines for child care providers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic—especially the brief about the prevention and control of infectious disease—because all the briefs provide links to best practice guidelines and examples of regulatory language on the topics.

This series of CCDF health and safety requirements briefs, updated in July 2020, provides an overview of national guidelines and state requirements related to the following topics:

·       Brief #1: Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases

·       Brief #2: Administering Medications

·       Brief #3: Prevention of and Response to Emergencies Due to Food and Allergic Reactions

·       Brief #4: Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Using Safe Sleeping Practices

·       Brief #5: Building and Physical Premises Safety

·       Brief #6: Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning

·       Brief #7: Handling, Storing, and Disposing of Hazardous Materials and Biological Contaminants

·       Brief #8: Transportation of Children.

Each brief includes the following:

·       Links to relevant standards from Caring for Our Children Basics: Health and Safety Foundations for Early Care and Education, which represent the minimum health and safety standards that experts believe should be in place when children are cared for outside their homes

·       Links to relevant standards in Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, CFOC Online Standards Database, which represent best practices with respect to health and safety in early care and education settings and helps programs and providers implement Caring for Our Children Basics standards, understand the research and rationale behind the standards, and move to higher levels of quality in health and safety

·       Data from the 2017 Child Care Licensing Study about licensing requirements for child care centers, family child care homes, and group child care homes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia

·       Examples of regulatory requirements for licensed and license-exempt providers that represent a range of approaches taken by the 50 states, District of Columbia, and 5 territories

·       Additional resources and tools to support states, territories, and tribes in the development and revision of health and safety requirements for child care settings.

For additional information and support, please visit the ECQA Center website or email us at

Office of Child Care

Administration for Children and Families

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Mary E. Switzer Building, Fourth Floor, MS 4425

330 C Street, S.W.

Washington, DC  20201

General office number: (202) 690-6782

Fax: (202) 690-5600

General email:


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Re-Opening Your Facility and Keeping It Open Safely During A Pandemic

Here is a creative model to deal with reopening schools, early care and education programs, large group settings, businesses, and then monitoring them over time. Ari Rosner provides us with a brilliant approach to setting up a defined space using distance algorithms. Very unique and clever think-outside-the-box methodology. These models address the number of individuals present, distancing/space, exposure time, and density. It is a perfect example of data utilization at its best. Highly recommended for any facilities or large businesses and agencies:

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Journal of Regulatory Science Article on a Mixed Method Program Evaluation of a Focused Child Care Monitoring Checklist

A very important and significant study was reported in the Journal of Regulatory Science: A Mixed Method Program Evaluation of Annual Inspections Conducted in
Childcare Programs in Washington State by Dr Sonya Stevens.

This mixed method study used a program evaluation to assess the reliability and social validity of the focused childcare monitoring checklist used in Washington State, as well as its social validity in maintaining quality programming in licensed childcare centers. The focused monitoring checklist and interview responses were used to answer two specific research questions: (1) How do stakeholders describe the value, usefulness,
and effects of state administrated focused monitoring?; and (2) What is the inter-rater reliability of the focused monitoring tool used to assess the foundational health and safety issues that must be met by state licensed early childhood programs? The study found that licensors and providers found the focused monitoring tool as more efficient and informative than the current differential monitoring system. The use of a checklist focusing on real time compliance increased the value placed on the relevance of the inspection with respect to meeting licensor and provider needs. The results also showed that even with a controlled tool, performance of onsite inspections can vary greatly along a continuum of reliability and objectivity due to licensor rater drift and individual perceptions of licensing procedures. Licensing agencies should consider further evaluation of the monitoring process and the reliability of the checklist tool as the process is implemented statewide, concentrating on the training content and
training methods provided to licensors.

Below is the URL for the full article in the journal:


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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

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ECPQIM: Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement & Indicator Model Tool and Validation

Here is a draft of the Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement and Indicator Model Tool (ECPQIM Tool) based upon the key indicator methodology combining indicators from both research on regulatory compliance and program quality over the past 40 years.  It represents a major cost effective and efficient advance in how best to monitor early care and education.  This tool is being developed in the Ministry of Education, Province of Saskatchewan.


Also, here is a draft of a report presenting the results of two validation studies in the State of Washington and the Province of Saskatchewan validating the key indicator and risk assessment methodologies in early care and education programs.

Validation Studies


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Proposed COVID19 Mitigation Logic Model

A week or two ago, I posted “A Tale of Two Trends” in which I attempted to show trends in daily COVID19 infection rates for countries that were successful and those that were not. This post deals with a proposed logic model (attached below) that might explain these two trends. The red sequence is not what we want to be doing while the green sequence is what we should be doing. The actual daily infection rates taken from the various countries clearly demonstrate the differences when the appropriate mitigation approaches are not followed.

COVID19 Logic Model

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COVID19 Daily Infection Rates: “The Tale of Two Trends”

COVID19 Daily Infection Rates: The Top 25 Countries and Trends in the Data

“The Tale of Two Trends”

Richard Fiene, Ph.D.

July 2020

I have been monitoring the COVID19 daily infection rates since the Johns Hopkins University site was established ( and two very different trends in the data have clearly emerged over the past 6 months which I find very unsettling.

The two trends (daily cases trend line) are the following: 1) A very positive trend in that cases did spike but since the spike have decreased significantly and are either at a very low level or continue to decrease. This is a good trend and one we had hoped for early on when the pandemic was first identified. However, there is a second trend 2) A very negative trend in that cases did spike but have plateaued out and are not decreasing or they are still increasing. This is not what we wanted to see. I am not going to conjecture into why this has occurred but I only want to list the countries in these two groups because maybe we can learn from the Group 1 countries.

I looked at the top 25 countries with the highest COVID19 daily infection rates in the aggregate (Total Confirmed Cases). Unfortunately, the majority of countries are in Group 2 (Negative Result)(n = 18) rather than in Group 1 (Positive Result)(n = 7).

  • Group 1 (+ Result) = UK, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, China.
  • Group 2 (- Result) = US, Iran, Brazil, Russia, India, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Columbia, Qatar, Sweden, Egypt, Argentina.

So what is so different about these two groups of countries’ approaches. Can we learn from Group 1. On the surface they look like a very diverse group from three different areas of the world. Please keep in mind that I only looked at the top 25 countries because they had the largest number of confirmed cases. However, when you analyze the data from all 188 affected countries the two trend lines hold up so again we could continue to search out the Group 1 countries and find out what is different about their approach because it appears to be working a lot better than the Group 2 countries.


Richard Fiene, Ph.D., Research Psychologist, Research Institute for Key Indicators (RIKIllc),,


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The Washington State Foster Care Study

The state of Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families just published a significant foster care pilot study utilizing an innovative key predictive methodology.

A mixed method correlational exploratory pilot was conducted in Washington State to determine items within the home study assessment that could be used as indicators to identify baseline requirements of the assessment and suggest anticipated depth (expansion or reduction) within the required topic(s). The purpose of the home study is to assess the caregiver(s)’ ability to provide a safe home, the quality of care needed by children and an environment that is nurturing, respectful and supportive. The goal of this study is to identify predicative indicators that will assist in the development of a home study that will increase consistency within home studies and decrease timeliness of completion.

The use of predictive indicators may have the potential to reduce subjective decision making as well as identify inconsistencies when determining the recommendation of approval or denial of a home study. Additionally, with a carefully designed home study system inclusive of predictive analytics, it is possible to reduce the amount of time an assessor uses to approve or deny a home study, saving agency time and resources. Finally, by using focused technical assistance with those applicants who need more or specific support, the use of predictive indicators may increase the success of timely placement and permanency goals. This mixed method study included a case review of 207 home studies where 19 primary and secondary themes emerged as significant. It lays the ground work for methods used to identify predictive elements within the assessment process. Preliminary results are provided along with further recommendations.

Please see the following link to learn more about this research study:


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ECE Validation Studies Completed in Washington State and the Province of Saskatchewan

Two large scale early care and education validation studies were completed in the state of Washington and in the Province of Saskatchewan demonstrating the effectiveness and efficiency of the differential monitoring approaches of risk assessment and key indicators.

Attached below are the two studies:

NARA Saskatchewan Validation Studies

NARA Washington Validation Final Report

These studies are extremely important because they demonstrate that differential monitoring as encouraged by CCDBG/CCDF via risk assessment and key indicator methodologies is an extremely valid approach to ECE licensing and program monitoring.


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Washington State Pilot Study Demonstrates Effectiveness of Contact Hours Metric in Determining COVID19 Potential Infections in Child Care

An exciting development has occurred in a child care pilot study in the state of Washington in which a new monitoring methodology appears to be able to build a metric that is effective at determining potential COVID19 infection rates.  The results need to be expanded and replicated but it appears that by using a new metric called “Contact Hours” instead of group size, it is possible to build a screening tool that takes into account time, space and numbers of individuals and provides a Conversion Table based upon the number of children, adults, and time of exposure and placing these data into a series of equations with the result, the higher the “Contact Hours”, the higher the potential infection rate.

It uses a color coded (red, yellow, green) traffic light pattern in which as the “Contact Hours” increases, it correlates with the potential spread of the COVID19 virus.  Red indicates “Highest Potential”; Yellow indicates “Mid Range Potential”; and Green indicates “Lowest Potential”.  The “Contact Hour” modeling and formulas take into account both exposure time as well as density distributions of individuals.   The “Contact Hour” metric is much more effective and efficient than either measuring group size or staff-child ratios alone or in combination.

The Washington child care validation pilot study is attached here:

Washington Child Care Contact Hour Validation Pilot Study

The authors of the study are now interested in fine tuning the methodology to determine the exact thresholds in the “Contact Hours” models which can statistically predict the potential spread of the virus.

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Ten Principles for Reopening Early Care and Education Programs

1)  It appears that “distancing” is a key element in the spread of the virus.  Square footage, staff-child-ratio and group size are the three standards/regulations that probably have the most impact on “distancing”.  Chances are the fewer staff and children in place together in the largest space will help to mitigate the spread of the virus.  We need to move our “Do No Harm” to “Mitigated Unavoidable Risks” as our safety philosophy during this pandemic.  Square footage, staff-child-ratio, and group size form a “Prevention Triangle” in attempting to keep kids safe during a pandemic in practicing “distancing”.  It is not perfect but it may help to prevent some cases.  We know that kids don’t social distance well, so we need to prepare the environment to help this to happen or at least increase the chances that it will occur.  It will be more about “reducing risks” rather than “preventing risks”. 

2)  Keep group sizes to 10 or fewer children. 

3)  Increase square footage to the greatest possible level.  This could be done by limiting the number of children at a particular site – think in terms of a family child care home model but having it at a child care center.  Use the group size as a cohort and do the introduction of only one cohort at a time within a center based program.  Only use self-contained classrooms.  The largest classroom that is available at the site, it will be easier for supervision.   

4)  Start with the older children, so that the ratio of staff to children can be maintained at 10-1 or 8-1 safely as per Caring for Our Children standards.  Younger children who will require additional staff will be introduced after we see how well the older children with one adult do.   

5)  Limit the number of hours in keeping the facility open.  It is all about contact hours and exposure times. 

6)  In the classroom, spread the group out by placing activity areas/learning centers as far apart as possible.  Expand the group.  Design developmentally appropriate activities that can incorporate masks and distancing.  Engage in more solitary or parallel play rather than group activities, just like toddlers do naturally in their developmental play patterns.  Mix up indoor and outdoor activities.  If there is only one group/cohort at each center there will be no need to worry about mixing of different groups. 

7)  Have teachers practice non-developmentally appropriate interactions by practicing safe distancing and not getting eye to eye with the child when interacting.  This will help with mitigating the spread of the virus so that if the child sneezes it will not be close to the teacher’s face.  Along with masks, issue smocks for each teacher to wear, they will be easier to wash if they do become infected.   

8)  Have the state licensing agency keep track of how programs are doing by using Fiene’s “Contact Hour Methodology” to determine any overpopulation situations.  Also, it could be an excellent tracking tool for future planning during a pandemic in answering questions about potential thresholds when it comes to the amount of contact hours between staff and children.  Go to for details. 

9)  By keeping group sizes to 10 or less it would be easier to transport the children because of the smaller numbers and practicing distancing in a van. 

10)  After a month or so and there are no outbreaks of the virus and staff are getting more comfortable & less stressed, add another cohort to the center in a separate self-contained classroom and follow the same steps as listed above. 

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Child Care Trilemma Out of Balance

The Child Care Trilemma of Affordability, Availability, and Quality had reached somewhat of a balance over the past 50 years since its original identification.  However, recently in the quest to get child care programs back up and running, the balancing act of these three concepts appear to be a bit ajar.  Since the COVID19 pandemic closed down the majority of child care in the country with the exception of emergency child care for essential workers, there has been a great deal of discussion on how best to move forward within national forums.  I have had the distinct honor to be included in many of these discussions.

What is beginning to worry me as I listen to others debate the rebooting of child care are the positions regarding the Child Care Trilemma Balance seem to be shifting to more emphasis on the affordability and availability (quantity) side of the equation with quality somewhere in the rear view mirror.  There is no doubt in my mind that child care is going to be a driving force to getting the general workforce back to work, but I hope we don’t regress 50 years to the same political dichotomization of child care as a workforce support for parents or a child development service for children.


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New iLookOut Publication on Cognitive Mapping

The iLookOut Research Team from the College of Medicine, Penn State Hershey, Bloomsburg University, New York University, and the University of Oklahoma have recently had their research into cognitive mapping published in the Journal of Distance Education and e-Learning.  Please see the article below describing this research:

Journal of Distance Education and e-Learning

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Formulae for a Contact Hours Metric to be Used in Emergency Child Care Technical Research Note

In an earlier email posted on emergency child care, there was mention about the need to develop a new metric dealing with contact hours.  The attached short technical research note provides a methodology for developing such a metric:

Since monitoring of programs will not be occurring during the COVID19 pandemic are there ways to measure compliance without actually needing to do observations in facilities, such as centers or homes.  There is when it comes to adult child ratios and group sizes by using a metric which uses the number of contact hours (CH) and determining if there is any relationship to COVID19 infections.  And it involves asking the following six questions:

  1. When does your first teaching staff arrive or when does your facility open?
  2. When does your last teaching staff leave or when does your facility close?
  3. Number of teaching/caregiving staff?
  4. Number of children on your maximum enrollment day?
  5. When does your last child arrive?
  6. When does your first child leave?

After getting the answers to these questions, the following formulae can be used to determine contact hours (CH) based upon the relationship between when the children arrive and leave (TH) and how long the facility is open (TO):

CH = ((NC (TO + TH)) / 2) / TA    

CH = (NC x TO) / TA

CH = ((NC x TO) / 2) / TA    

CH = (NC2) / TA

Where: CH = Contact Hours; NC = Number of Children; TO = Total number of hours the facility is open; TA = Total number of teaching staff, and TH = Total number of hours at full enrollment.

By knowing the number of contact hours (CH) it will be possible to rank order the exposure time of adults with children.  This metric could then be used to determine if greater contact hours is correlated with the increased risk of the COVID19 virus, for example.   The following chart can be used by entering the following metrics (example in the table is based upon 5 enrolled children (NC)):  the facility is open for 10 hours (TO) and then various scenarios are played out for how long the facility is at full enrollment (TH).  Based upon these metrics an outcome rubric can be used where less CH is a positive (+), while high CH is a negative (-).  For simplicity, the following chart is based upon one teaching staff (TA) being present (1:5 Adult-Child Ratio).

Contact Hour Score Generated from Above 4 Formulae and Potential Outcomes (COVID19 Infections)

Contact Hours – CH Score Formulae for CH Score Potential Outcomes


(5 (NC) x 10 (TO)) / 2 +


(5 (NC) (5 (TH) + 10 (TO)) / 2

+ / –


5 (NC) x 10 (TO)

-/ +

62.5 5 (NC) x 12.5 (TO)

Formulae for a Contact Hours Metric to be Used in Emergency Child Care Technical Research Note

Here is an update to the above Technical Research Note with a Conversion Table generating Relatively Weighted Contact Hours and a series of research notes (first paper) and an Excel Spread Sheet for actually do the calculations and generating results (second paper):

CHACR Fiene 4-24-20

CHACR Formula Models3 Excel Spreadsheet

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Licensing Principles for Emergency Child Care

Based upon conversations that have been occurring at the national level I wanted to share the following principles that I think apply to licensing of emergency child care:
1)  We need to rethink the philosophy of “Do No Harm” and replace it with “Unavoidable  Risks”.  Emergency child care is in the eye of a perfect storm of risk and the best we will be able to do is reduce, but we will not be able to prevent the spread of this virus.
2)  Stepping Stones to Caring for Our Children, the key standards from the larger set of CFOC standards that place children at greatest risk of mortality and morbidity need to be the reference point for licensing administrators as they think about regulating this new temporary service of emergency child care.
3)  The most stringent adult-child ratios are critical in reducing the spread of the virus, following CFOC Standard 3.6.2 (Child Care for Ill Children) for ratios is recommended with the exception of babies under one year where a 1:1 ratio is recommended.
4)  Adult-child ratio needs to be the new group size standard/rule in emergency child care.  In other words, if the ratio is 3:1, the group size is 3 children, not 6 children.  We need a new metric that measures contact hours.
5)  Regulation of square footage, which generally averages 35 square feet in family child care homes and child care centers, needs to be increased to 144 square feet in any setting (home, center, school, YMCA/YWCA, preschool, etc..) in order to abide by the distancing requirement of 6 feet.
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Emergency Child Care

Here is a concept paper on the need for emergency child care because of the COVID-19 pandemic and how best to meet the need:


The two papers mentioned in the above concept paper are posted here for your viewing:

Honor the Early Childhood Education Workforce

In the Eye of the Storm

And here is the URL to the LinkedIn Post by Peggy Pizzo on Emergency Child Care:

LinkedIn Post by Peggy Pizzo

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Developmental Time/Space Continuum Theory: The Dimensionality of Space, Time as Space in Motion, and the Spatial Acquisition Device (SAD)

I am going to make a very different post this time versus my past blogs in this column.  What I am sharing: Developmental Time/Space Continuum (DT/SC) Theory (see attached technical research note below) is something I have been working on for some time now.  It is presented here as a “thought piece”, a preliminary technical research note that I would love to begin a dialogue about.  I have always had an interest in cognitive development as a research psychologist and how we develop our basic concepts of time and space.  This led me to do a great deal of reading of Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development and Epistemology as well as in the physical sciences.  There still is much work to be done on DT/SC but I wanted to get some feedback from others and that is the reason for posting it on this blog.

DTSC + SAD + 4States Serial Notes

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Fiene to Receive “VOICE for Children Distinguished Career Award”

Dr Richard Fiene will be receiving a Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children VOICE for Children Distinguished Career Award (PennAEYC Award Announcement) in April of this year.   Dr Fiene’s career spans 5 decades from the early 1970’s until the present day.   He has spent his professional career in improving the quality of early care and education in various states, nationally, and internationally both at the public policy and academic levels.  He has done extensive research and publishing on the key components in improving child care quality through an innovative early childhood program quality indicator model of training, technical assistance, quality rating & improvement systems, professional development, mentoring/coaching, licensing, risk assessment, differential program monitoring, key indicators/regulatory compliance, and accreditation which has led to a cost effective and efficient approach to data utilization and child outcomes.

Dr Fiene is a retired professor of human development & psychology (Penn State University) where he was department head and founding director, along with Dr Mark Greenberg, of the Capital Area Early Childhood Research and Training Institute.  He is presently President & Senior Research Psychologist for the Research Institute for Key Indicators which he founded in 2013 and continues consulting with early care & education agencies in the US, Canada, and beyond; and with the College of Medicine at the Penn State Medical Center in Hershey, the Prevention Research Center & Better Kid Care Program at University Park.

Dr Fiene is generally regarded as a leading international researcher/scholar on human services licensing measurement and differential monitoring systems.  His regulatory compliance law of diminishing returns has altered human services regulatory science and licensing measurement dramatically in thinking about how best to monitor and assess licensing rules and regulations through targeted and abbreviated inspections.

His research has led to the following developments: identification of herding/clustering behavior in the developmental play patterns of two-year olds, preschool developmental play patterns being applied to adult-child ratio regulatory compliance, national early care and education quality indicators, mathematical model for determining adult-child ratio compliance, solution to the trilemma in child care delivery services, Stepping Stones to Caring for Our Children, online mentoring/coaching as a targeted and individualized learning platform, the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA), validation framework for early childhood licensing systems and quality rating & improvement systems, an Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement Model, Theory of Regulatory Compliance, Caring for Our Children Basics: Health and Safety Foundations for Early Care and Education, and to the development of statistical techniques for dealing with highly skewed, non-parametric data distributions in human services licensing systems (child care, child-residential, and adult-residential)(National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) Key Indicators).

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Public Library of Science PLOS One: The iLookOut Research Study

Attached is the latest research article detailing the iLookOut Study and Program, Penn State, College of Medicine, Center for the Protection of Children:

Generalizing findings from a randomized controlled trial to a real-world study of the iLookOut, an online education program to improve early childhood care and education providers’ knowledge and attitudes about reporting child maltreatment


In recent years, real-world studies (RWS) are gaining increasing interests, because they can generate more realistic and generalizable results than randomized controlled clinical trials (RCT). In 2017, we published a RCT in 741 early childhood care and education providers (CCPs). It is the Phase I of our iLookOut for Child Abuse project (iLookOut), an online, interactive learning module about reporting suspected child maltreatment. That study demonstrated that in a RCT setting, the iLookOut is efficient at improving CCPs’ knowledge of and attitudes towards child maltreatment reporting. However, the generalizability of that RCT’s results in a RWS setting remains unknown. To address this question, we design and conduct this large RWS in 11,065 CCPs, which is the Phase II of the iLookOut. We hypothesize replication of the earlier RCT findings, i.e., the iLookOut can improve CCPs’ knowledge of and attitudes toward child maltreatment reporting in a real world setting. In addition, this RWS also explores whether demographic factors affect CCPs’ performance. Results of this RWS confirmed the generalizability of the previous RCT’s results in a real world setting. It yielded similar effect sizes for knowledge and attitudes as were found in the earlier RCT. Cohen’s d for knowledge improvement was 0.95 in that RCT, 0.96 in this RWS; Cohen’s d for attitude improvement was 0.98 in that RCT, 0.80 in this RWS. Also, we found several significant differences in knowledge and attitude improvement with regard to age, race, education, and employment status. In conclusion, iLookOut improves knowledge and attitudes of CCPs about child maltreatment prevention and reporting in a real-world setting. The generalizability of the initial RCT findings to this RWS provides strong evidence that the iLookout will be effective in other real world settings. It can be a useful model for other interventions aimed at preventing child maltreatment.

PLOS One Public Library of Science Research Article


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CCDF Resource Manual and Differential Monitoring Algorithms

Below please find links to the CCDF Resource Manual which is a tremendous resource to state agency administrators as they are busy complying with the standards of the Child Care Development Fund.  The Office of Child Care has done a wonderful job in putting in one place a ton of resources that are readily available.

The second link is a series of papers that present the algorithms for putting in place a differential monitoring system.  It provides all the details for state agency Information Technology (IT) staff to get such a system up and running.  Again it provides one stop shopping for state administrators if they are interested in developing such a system.

CCDF Fundamentals Resource Guide

Differential Monitoring Algorithm Papers


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NARA Annual Licensing Seminar

The National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) annual licensing seminar is next week.  It brings together key researchers, policy administrators, and licensing staff and administrators to discuss the latest developments in regulatory administration and science.  Attached is an overview highlighting the presentations for the week.  Please pay particular attention to the presentation by Lisa Clifford and Dawn Downer on Differential Monitoring Through Data Driven Decisions.  They have done a wonderful study in the state of Indiana in the development of a Licensing Key Indicator system and did some very interesting analyses in comparing licensing data with their QRIS system.   Many jurisdictions can learn about very effective and efficient data utilization from their approach.

NARA Licensing Seminar 2019 Schedule of Presentations


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Three RIKI Technical Research Notes for Scientists, ECPQIM Data Distributions, and Principles of Regulatory Compliance Measurement

Listed in this RIKINotes blog are three RIKIllc Technical Research Notes for psychological scientists (geared for all scientists considering research with regulatory compliance data)(1), ECPQI2M (Early Childhood Program Quality Improvement and Indicator Model) data distributions(2), and proposed principles of regulatory compliance measurement(3).  These three technical research notes help to further delineate the nuances and idiosyncrasies of regulatory compliance data, measurement, and analysis.

  1. ECPQIM Regulatory Compliance Methods and Practices for Scientists
  2. ECPQIM DB Data Distributions
  3. Principles of Regulatory Compliance Measurement


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Economic Application Utilizing the Theory of Regulatory Compliance

Here is an article published in the Academic Journal of Economic Studies utilizing the Theory of Regulatory Compliance (Fiene, 2016; 2019).  The study appraises the quality of compliance upheld by selected Nigerian and Ghanaian manufacturing companies to minimum disclosure requirements of IFRS during financial reporting. Hence, it determines whether any significant difference exists in the compliance quality of the post IFRS Financial Statements prepared in Nigeria and Ghana in their first five years of IFRS adoption. It is an empirical study that is descriptively designed to pave room for the use of the content analysis scoring system as the core instrument for data collection.

The study recommends that a more robust regulatory oversight on companies’ full compliance to IFRS disclosure requirements be upheld towards achieving a commendable level of comparison in both countries’ IFRS Financial Statements as expected. More so, companies’ consistent full compliance to IFRS requirements should hence be adopted as one of the prerequisites for there continued listing by the Nigerian and Ghana Stock Exchanges.

Academic Journal of Economic Studies

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Exchange Leadership Initiative – New Exchange Leaders Announced

The July-August 2019 Issue of the Child Care Exchange Magazine was just published and I have the distinct honor to be included as one of the new Exchange Leaders announced in this edition of the magazine.  I feel humbled to be included with such a wonderful group of ECE professionals who are doing great work with young children.

Attached is the article that appeared in the magazine announcing the new Exchange Leaders and the Exchange Leader Webpage site:

Exchange Leadership Initiative Article

The Exchange Leaders


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