Limited strong causal evidence exists on coaching for early care and education caregivers of infants and toddlers; most existing research is focused on older children (e.g., preschool/pre-K ages and older). The research that exists on child care coaching in infant and toddler child care settings typically has very small sample sizes, high sample attrition, and other study design concerns. This body of work tends to focus on indicators of nurturing and responsive care and child developmental outcomes.
The research discussed here meets our standards of evidence for being methodologically strong and allowing for causal inference, unless otherwise noted. Each strong causal study reviewed has been assigned a letter, and a complete list of causal studies can be found at the end of this review, along with more details about our standards of evidence and review method. The findings from each strong causal study reviewed align with one of our eight policy goals from Table 1. The Evidence of Effectiveness table displays the findings associated with child care coaching (beneficial, null,iii or detrimental) for each of the strong studies (A through D) in the causal studies reference list, as well as our conclusions about the overall impact on each studied policy goal. The assessment of the overall impact for each studied policy goal weighs the timing of publication and relative strength of each study, as well as the size and direction of all measured indicators.
Table 2: Evidence of Effectiveness for Child Care Coaching by Policy Goal
|Policy Goal||Indicator||Beneficial Impacts||Null Impacts||Detrimental Impacts||Overall Impact on Goal
|Nurturing and Responsive Child Care in Safe Settings||Caregiver-Child Interactions||A, C, D||Mostly Null
|Global Observed Quality||A, D||
|Teacher Knowledge: Language/Literacy ||B||
|Teacher Language/Literacy Classroom Practice||B||
|Teacher Knowledge: General Infant/Toddler Development||C||
|Optimal Child Health and Development||Child Social-Emotional Skills Composite||D||Trending^ Null
|Child Cognitive and Language Skills Composite||D||
^Trending indicates that the evidence is from fewer than two strong causal studies or multiple studies that include only one location, author, or data set.
Nurturing and Responsive Child Care in Safe Settings
Each of the four studies included in this review evaluated some aspect of nurturing and caring environments, including caregiver-child interactions, global quality, teacher knowledge (specific or general), teacher classroom practice, and teacher beliefs. Three studies examined indicators of caregiver-child interactions, and each found null impacts.A,C,D A large randomized control trial (RCT) of a training and coaching intervention did not find any statistically significant evidence of an impact on a composite measure of caregiver-child interactions.D,iv A quasi-experimental study of the impact of on-site consultation in addition to a training program also found no evidence of an impact on caregiver-child interactions.A,v
Another study assessed the impact of coaching in the context of a larger intervention – study participants were either assigned to a comparison group with no intervention, a community college comparison group enrolled in an infant-toddler theory and practice course, or one of three randomly assigned intervention groups that received standardized coursework plus different levels of coaching (0, 5, or 15 hours of coaching, randomly determined).C This study assessed caregiver-child interactions using the CLASS subscales of emotional-behavioral support, as well as support for language and learning, and found mixed overall effects with mostly null within-group effects. No evidence of a long-term effect of coaching interventions on teacher emotional-behavioral support was found. The study did find evidence of some within-group improvements among caregivers who received the highest dosage of coaching on emotional-behavioral support metrics (effect size 0.58 pretest to follow-up, reflecting a change from mid-range CLASS scores to the low end of high-range scores). The study also found evidence of a significant time and group interaction for teacher support for language and learning. Within-group differences suggested this impact was driven by positive changes in the group that had no coaching (effect size 0.60 pretest to follow-up) and the group that had the highest dosage of coaching (effect size 0.95, pretest to follow-up). All other within-group differences on the CLASS measures for the groups receiving coaching were null. Overall, the study did not find consistent evidence that the coaching intervention improved caregiver-child interactions. These findings should be interpreted with some caution due to small sample sizes within groups, lack of sufficient statistical power for some analyses, and lack of random assignment to comparison groups.
Two studies examined the effects of coaching on measures of global observed classroom quality. A quasi-experimental study of the impact of on-site consultation in addition to a training program did not find clear evidence that the consultation intervention increased program quality over time, as measured by the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS).A Similarly, the large RCT of a training and coaching intervention found no evidence that the intervention, the Program for Infant/Toddler Care, had a significant impact on quality, as measured by the ITERS-R or the Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS-R).D
Beyond broad quality measures, child care coaching may also aim to impact teacher knowledge, classroom practices, and teacher beliefs. One study of family child care providers examined changes in teacher language, literacy knowledge, and practice as a result of coursework in language and literacy plus weekly on-site coaching for 32 weeks, as compared to providers who received coursework only or did not receive any professional development training through this intervention.B Although the intervention was targeted at family child care providers who provided care to at least one child ages 3 to 5, these providers served children ranging in age from under 1 year old to 5 years old. The study found no impact of the intervention on teacher knowledge of language or literacy but did find that the group receiving coaching in addition to coursework had statistically significant improvements in quality of teacher language and literacy classroom practices,vi as compared to the coursework only and control groups (effect sizes d=0.71 and 0.74, respectively).vii A study assessing the impact of coaching dosage in the context of a larger professional development intervention also examined impacts of coaching on teachers’ general infant/toddler developmental knowledge and self-efficacy but found no evidence of impacts on either indicator.C,viii
Optimal Child Health and Development
Only one study, a large RCT evaluation of a training and on-site coaching intervention, examined indicators of optimal child health and development. This evaluation found no impact on a composite measure of children’s social-emotional skills or a composite measure of child cognitive and language skillsix measured six months after the program ended.D Although it had a rigorous study design, the RCT had high attrition among the child study sample and was unable to isolate the impacts of coaching separately from the impacts of the training also included in the intervention.
- An impact is considered statistically significant if p<0.05.
- In this study, the composite measure of staff-child interactions included items from the ITERS-R/FCCERS-R and the Program for Infant/Toddler Care Program Assessment Rating System.
- Caregiver-child interaction was measured by the Arnett Caregiver Interaction Scale (positive interactions, permissiveness, punitiveness, and detachment).
- In this study, language and literacy classroom practices were assessed using the Child/Home Early Language and Literacy Observation (CHELLO), a tool for assessing these practices in a family child care setting.
- Teacher knowledge was assessed using an author-created assessment of content knowledge on core language/literacy competencies. Positive impact on language/literacy classroom behavior is based on overall CHELLO scores, subscale impacts were mixed.
- Study authors note that any changes in knowledge seen over time in all groups were very small (approximately one question or less on an 18-item scale). Similarly, only small (nonsignificant) changes were seen in teacher self-efficacy, likely due to the fact that teachers had very high self-efficacy at the start of the study.
- The composite measure of child social emotional skills was based on scores from the Child Behavior Checklist and the Positive Behavior Scale. The composite measure of child cognitive and language skills was based on scores from the Bracken School Readiness Assessment 3rd Edition and the Preschool Language Scale 4th edition.