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Resource Details

Initiative Name: 

Evaluation of Paths to QUALITY, Indiana’s QRIS System




Child Care, Quality Improvement, Accountability & Evaluation, Quality Rating Systems

Source Of Information: 

ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates



Year Started: 



An evaluation conducted by Purdue University between July 2008 and September 2011 found that Indiana’s quality rating and improvement system, Paths to QUALITY (PTQ), is successfully meeting its objectives. Researchers used independent quality measures to validate PTQ, showing that each of the four levels in the system represent meaningful differences in child care quality. Level four providers are providing significantly higher quality care than those at level one, and incremental increases in quality are seen in most cases when assessing levels one, two, and three. This was true for all provider types and age groups studied, including infant and toddler classrooms. The differences were most pronounced for licensed family child care providers.

The study also found that many providers participating in PTQ are advancing to higher levels. According to the PTQ central data system, 52% of all enrolled providers have advanced at least one level since they joined PTQ. Of the providers included in the study, 25% at level one, 48% at level two, and 14% at level three increased to the next level within a six-month period. In interviews, 79% of providers included in the study said they hoped to advance to level three or four within the next year. Providers also noted in interviews that they found important benefits from participating in PTQ. The vast majority (92%) reported that they had received some type of assistance from their local child care resource and referral agency. Many (82%) worked with a mentor to develop quality improvement plans. Mentoring was identified by providers as the most valuable benefit offered through PTQ, especially for family child care homes, registered child care ministries, and level one and two providers. Participating providers are also eligible for gifts and financial incentives.

In addition to evaluating child care quality and interviewing providers, Purdue researchers examined parents’ experiences with PTQ. They conducted a statewide public survey to determine general awareness of the program among parents. Unfortunately this showed low levels of awareness; only 14% of parents surveyed had heard of PTQ. Rates were higher in the two regions of the state where PTQ began (Fort Wayne: 35% and Evansville: 43%). Though awareness was low, parents did say that they valued PTQ quality level ratings and that they would have some influence in their future child care decisions.

PTQ began as a local initiative in the 1990s. The voluntary rating system was launched statewide in 2008 in a phased roll-out that took place over the course of two years. In September 2011, 2,110 providers were enrolled in PTQ, including 82% of all licensed child care centers, 52% of all licensed family child care homes, and 11% of all unlicensed registered child care ministries. These numbers have continued to increase. By September 2012, 88% of licensed centers, 59% of licensed homes, and 10% of registered ministries were participating in Paths to QUALITY. The levels of PTQ move providers from basic licensure or voluntary registration (level one) to national accreditation (level four). Levels two and three are aligned with the state’s early learning guidelines and focus on environmental supports to children’s learning and a planned curriculum that guides children’s development and school readiness. PTQ is unique in that it differentiates the needs of infants and toddlers from older children by identifying specific requirements that must be met when caring for them. A previous Baby Matters entry details these requirements. You can read it here:'&union=AND&viewby=50&startrec=1&tbl_Public_InitiativeYMGHFREStateTerritoryTribe=IN&tbl_Public_InitiativeYMGHFREDescription=&top_parent=164.

To learn more about Purdue University’s evaluation of Paths to QUALITY, and to download a copy of the report, visit For more information about Paths to QUALITY visit

Updated October 2013.


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