A critical national concern is the lack of high quality, affordable child care. Though an important charge of early intervention is to help children establish social-emotional competencies, knowledge about infant social- emotional development and evidence-based caregiving practices for supporting positive social-emotional outcomes are woefully lacking among child care providers. Regional and national studies of child care quality show that although high quality care is consistently associated with better child outcomes, less than ten percent of infant child care environments met criteria for good or excellent quality (NACCRRA, 2008). This is alarming given that nearly half of the 11.6 million infants and toddlers in the nation receive care from someone other than a parent and children of working mothers spend an average of 35 hours per week in child care (NACCRRA, 2008). In the current application, we propose to adapt the evidence-based Play and Learning Strategies program (PALS), which has been demonstrated to improve parent responsiveness and infant social-emotional outcomes, for delivery within child care. To facilitate child care provider access to the program, we will use our existing Web-based delivery system for the PALS program designed to address many of the barriers known to hinder the successful transfer of research to practice (Infant Net;Feil, Bagget, Davis et al., 2008). We will adapt Infant Net, by developing new text, audio, and video that reflect authentic childcare contexts, to create Infant Net for Child Care Providers (Infant Net-CCP). Infant Net-CCP will include weekly sessions in which interactive skills-based tutorials will be enhanced with participant-created videos of provider-infant interactions recorded via a computer eyeball camera. These interactions can then be viewed over the internet simultaneously by providers and coaches while discussing them together through weekly phone support such that distal progress monitoring can occur to make effective intervention decisions. During the first year, adaptation and development of Infant Net-CCP will involve a continuous, iterative process of testing and refinement, using focus group methodology with feedback from key groups of stakeholders, including childcare administrators, trainers, and providers. At the end of Year 1, we will continue refinement by conducting a pre-post pilot evaluation with two successive cohorts of child care providers and infants (n=10 providers/infants in each cohort). We will place laptop computers with an eyeball camera and wireless Internet access in each child care classroom. Evaluation outcomes will focus on measures of feasibility and usability relative to the intervention process for providers as well as outcome measures of provider knowledge, skill and satisfaction and infant social emotional functioning.
In the current application, we propose to transfer to the child care environment, the evidence-based Play and Learning Strategies program (PALS), which has been demonstrated to improve parent responsiveness and infant social-emotional outcomes. To facilitate child care provider access to the program, we will utilize our existing Web-based delivery system for the PALS program designed to address many of the barriers known to hinder the successful transfer of research to practice (Infant Net;Feil, Bagget, Davis et al., 2008;Baggett et al., in press). This research will provide important information about the usability and feasibility of a professional development program for child care providers to improve infant social-emotional outcomes.