Given the far-reaching impact of group care on young children’s development, the need to measure the quality of early care programs is widely recognized by policymakers and practitioners.

The PITC PARS is a tool used to measure essential components of infant/toddler group care — from caregiving interactions to the physical environment to program policies and administrative structures. The tool enables observers to assess the extent to which family child care and center-based programs promote responsive, relationship-based care for infants and toddlers (ages 0–3).

Assessors use the PITC PARS to measure programs' support of young children’s social-emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development. The instrument allows assessors to conduct a multimethod assessment — including direct observation, interview, and review of program materials — to measure the program’s caregiving interactions, care environment, program policies, and administrative structures.

Download the PITC PARS instrument (coming soon).

The PITC PARS instrument is designed to reflect the research literature about important components of quality for infant/toddler care programs.

A recent study1 evaluating the psychometric properties of the PITC PARS — that is, how valid and reliable it is in measuring program quality — found that the instrument measures distinct, yet related, components of global child care quality. The study suggested that the PITC PARS offers infant and toddler care programs an efficient means of documenting their efforts to improve quality.

1Mangione, P. L., Kriener-Althen, K., & Marcella, J. (2016). Measuring the multifaceted nature of infant and toddler care quality. Journal of Early Education and Development 27(2), 149–169.

The PITC PARS is designed to recognize the multifaceted nature of responsive, relationship-based early care. Accordingly, the instrument measures programs based on five primary components of child care quality for infants and toddlers. These components are referred to as subscales, with each consisting of various items and sub-items that allow for the assessment of key aspects of the program.

The PITC PARS takes a strengths-based approach to measuring program quality. All of the items and sub-items are stated in a positive way, focusing on aspects of a child care program that support the well-being, learning, and development of young children.


Assesses the responsiveness of individual teachers’ interactions with the infants and toddlers in their care.

Subscale I items:

A.  Responsiveness and Sensitivity to Children
B.  Positive Tone and Attentiveness
C.  Responsive Engagement and Intervention 
D. Respect for Children’s Initiative and Choices
E. Facilitation of Cognitive Development and Learning
F.  Adult Use of Language and Communication
G.  Adult Support of Children's Language Development and Communication


Assesses the extent to which caregiving practices, the care environment, and program policies are responsive to cultural and family practices as well as the unique needs of children.

Subscale II items:

A.  Relationships with Families
B.  Communication with Families
C.  Culturally Responsive Care
D.  Assistant and Substitute Care (Family Child Care only) or Representative Staffing (Center-Based only)
E.  Inclusion of Children with Disabilities or Other Special Needs


Assesses the extent to which the program’s structure, procedures, and caregiving practices provide a solid foundation for providing responsive caregiving and meeting infants’ and toddlers’ individual needs.

Subscale III items:

A.  Primary Caregiving
B.  Continuity of Care
C.  Following Children’s Individual Schedules 
D.  Group Size and Structure


Assesses the extent to which the program provides indoor and outdoor environments that support infants’ and toddlers’ developmental needs.

Subscale IV items:

A.  Arrangement of the Child Care Space
B.  Opportunities for Exploration
C.  Opportunities for Movement
D.  Safety of Play Materials and Environment
E.  Cleanliness of Environment and Play Materials
F.  Comfort of Children and Adults
G.  Reduced Stimulation


Assesses the extent to which caregiving routines and program procedures promote infants’ and toddlers’ safety and health.

Subscale V items:

A.  Healthful and Safe Feeding Routines
B.  Healthful and Safe Diapering and Toileting
C.  Healthful and Safe Napping
D.  Record Keeping and Information Sharing