Quality in Home-Based Child Care: A Review of Selected Literature

Quality in Home-Based Child Care: A Review of Selected Literature

OPRE Report 2021-136
Published: Oct 22, 2021
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Associated Project

Home Based Child Care Supply and Quality

Time frame: 2019-2024

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation


Juliet Bromer

Toni Porter

Marina Ragonese-Barnes

Jaimie Orland

Key Findings
  • The review identified four broad components of quality in HBCC, each with several quality features: (1) home setting and learning environments; (2) provider-child relationships; (3) provider-family relationships and family supports; and (4) conditions for operations and sustainability. Most research concentrated on FCC providers.
  • There is more evidence in the research literature on quality features that are found across ECE settings than on quality features that may be more likely to occur or to be implemented differently in HBCC settings.
  • Ample evidence detailed how provider characteristics interact with quality components and features in HBCC. Literature described the importance of neighborhood context in parenting and children’s developmental outcomes.
  • Several gaps in the literature suggest directions for future research on HBCC, including: providers, families, and children from historically marginalized groups; school-age children and children with disabilities; quality features in FFN settings; associations between quality features and child, family, and provider outcomes; and mixed method, longitudinal, and experimental research designs.

Executive Summary

Millions of American families rely on home-based child care (HBCC), which is child care offered in a provider’s home or the child’s home. HBCC encompasses providers who offer regulated family child care (FCC) and those who offer unregulated family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) care. Yet the research literature on child care quality focuses primarily on center-based care. This report summarizes findings from a review of existing literature on the features of quality in HBCC settings and the provider and neighborhood characteristics that may influence these features. The review includes 29 literature reviews and 59 primary research articles primarily published since 2010, including peer-reviewed articles and grey literature. The review documents the types of evidence and types of HBCC settings described in these publications, along with evidence of the mechanisms that link features of quality to provider, child, and family outcomes. This review is one component of the HBCC Supply and Quality project, and findings will guide how the project team understands and approaches quality in its work on other project components.

How do you apply evidence?

Take our quick four-question survey to help us curate evidence and insights that serve you.

Take our survey