In last month's blog post in our family child care (FCC) series, we looked at the first challenge of coding across multiple age levels in family child care homes. This month, we'll explore the second challenge observers often face in FCC settings: what to do when you arrive at a family child care home and there are only a couple of children there.

FCC Challenge #2: Establishing Coding Consistency in Inconsistent Settings

Family homes often operate for extended hours, providing early-morning, late-evening, and even overnight care, and the number of children present at any one time can vary from setting to setting, day to day, hour to hour. Parents sometimes need to drop off their school-aged child before the bus comes and they may be present for part of the time you are there. Other children are picked up and dropped off based on their parent’s work schedule, this flexibility being one of the benefits of in-home care for families with non-traditional work schedules. So the question becomes: “How should I proceed with such variability?”

Here are some tips:

  • If you can, wait until at least four children are present.
  • In homes when less than four children are enrolled, find out from the provider what time the most children will be present and plan your visit with this information in mind. This will also help you determine which tool you need to use, or if you need multiple manuals and scoring booklets.

The purpose for doing CLASS® observations can vary. It may be for research, accountability efforts, program planning and evaluation, or professional development and supervision. Giving careful consideration to how the data will be used is also an important part of conducting these observations.

Here are some tips:

  • Review the “Uses of the CLASS” section in the Introduction of your CLASS Manual.
  • Once you have determined how you would like to use the CLASS data, decide what your coding protocol will be and use this consistently across settings.

What kind of protocol works best for your organization?