Professional Development Tools to Improve the Quality of Infant and Toddler Care: A Review of the Literature (Snapshot)

Professional Development Tools to Improve the Quality of Infant and Toddler Care: A Review of the Literature (Snapshot)

Published: Nov 30, 2016
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Associated Project

We Grow Together: The Professional Development Tools for Improving Quality for Infant and Toddler Care

Time frame: 2015–2023

Prepared for:

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


Sally Atkins-Burnett

Key Findings

Key Findings:

  • Few studies focus on caregivers in infant/toddler or home-based settings, but the broader literature discusses tools and approaches useful for these two groups. In addition, most tools/approaches and strategies have not been studied in isolation and instead are typically bundled together.
  • Ongoing PD efforts can be more effective at sustaining caregiver or child outcomes than one-time PD approaches. More intensive delivery has the strongest evidence of effectiveness.
  • The available literature points to a range of effective PD strategies, in­cluding positive provider-caregiver relationships, the active participa­tion of caregivers in PD efforts, and performance feedback. Using a combination of strate­gies may foster better caregiver outcomes.
  • Online tools are a cost-effec­tive and successful approach to providing PD, particularly for caregivers in more isolated set­tings. They can provide collegial support for caregivers who are geographically or socially isolat­ed, such as those in rural areas and home-based settings.
The literature review report for the Professional Development Tools to Improve the Quality of Infant and Toddler Care (Q-CCIIT PD Tools) project summarizes the state of the field, highlighting the most promising methods and approaches for enhancing caregiver interactions with young children, particularly caregivers serving infants and toddlers, those with limited education, and those in home-based and family child care (FCC) settings. The review is not exhaustive; instead, it identifies the professional development (PD) resources and components most pertinent to the development of new PD tools and the project’s conceptual framework. The review draws on several sources: recent reviews and meta-analyses conducted within the past 10 years, the websites of leading PD and research organizations, database searches for empirical studies published during the past 10 years, expert, and Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) input. Together, the sources resulted in 122 studies, including 31 focused on caregivers serving infants and toddlers and 26 with caregivers in home-based or FCC settings. The report is accompanied by a set of appendix tables summarizing key aspects of each study included in the review.

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