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Including Relationship-Based Care Practices in Infant-Toddler Care: Implications for Practice and Policy

By Laura Sosinsky, Karen Ruprecht, Diane Horm, Kerry Kriener-Althen, Cheri Vogel, Tamara Halle


Research suggests high-quality care and learning programs that begin early in life carry the potential to improve developmental outcomes as well as close gaps in academic achievement for young children. This is especially true when the care is relationship-based. However, the observed quality of care in infant and toddler settings is low in general and often lower than in preschool settings.

Thus, relationship-based care is a priority area for practice and policy initiatives aiming to strengthen quality standards in infant and toddler care and education settings. This brief:

  • Describes relationship-based care practices
  • Describes the research supporting the need for quality relationships in infant and toddler care
  • Emphasizes two specific relationship-based care supports – primary caregiving and continuity of care
  • Presents considerations for child care directors and owners adopting or enhancing relationship-based care practices
  • Discusses the implications of state standards for incorporating these practices into programs that serve infants and toddlers

The brief focuses on implementation and standards in child care centers because, in general, family child care homes are already structured to support relationship-based care practices from infancy through age three due to small numbers of children and caregivers. However, these considerations for implementing relationship-based care practices may also be relevant for group child care homes.


Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2016
Format: PDF
Pages: 32
Publisher: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation