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Public Policy Associates (PPA) in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start (MDE/OGS) and the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) has been conducting an evaluation of the revised Great Start to Quality (GSQ) (Michigan’s Quality Recognition and Improvement System or QRIS). A significantly revised GSQ was launched in February 2023 following years of planning, input gathering, development, and training.

MDE/OGS is the state’s Child Care and Development Fund lead agency, administering Michigan’s child care assistance program. The office also has responsibility for supporting access high-quality early learning and development programs for children ages 0-8. ECIC implements GSQ for MDE/OGS through information sharing, assessment, and data management.

Over the course of four years, the evaluation will address five main research questions:

  1. Does Michigan’s redesigned QRIS result in higher participation by child care providers, and particularly for home-based child care providers (HBCCs)?
  2. Is the redesigned QRIS associated with higher quality levels, on average and across different types of providers? Specifically, does the redesigned system make it easier for HBCCs to achieve higher quality levels comparable with child care centers?
  3. Is the redesigned QRIS associated with greater equity of access, by community type (urban/rural, poverty level, racial diversity), child type (i.e., children with disabilities, age of child), and parental needs (i.e., non-traditional hours)?
  4. What program characteristics reported by providers are most strongly associated with higher scores on classroom observations? Do child care staff with “weaker” credentials demonstrate comparable levels of classroom quality to credentialed staff, as measured by classroom observations?
  5. How do staff shortages and staff turnover influence providers’ ability to demonstrate quality on the redesigned QRIS? To what extent do shortages and turnover influence participation in the QRIS, or act as a barrier towards program improvement? Are there differences in these relationships by provider or community type?

The issue brief summarizes the changes made to the GSQ as of February 1, 2023, and provides data about GSQ participation before the revisions and as of August 30, 2023.

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