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Climate of Healthy Interactions for Learning and Development (CHILD)

What is the CHILD?

The CHILD focuses on the quality of the social and emotional climate in early childhood care and education settings. The social and emotional climate is characterized by authentic warmth and friendship, developmentally appropriate and child-centered instruction, equitable treatment of children, and a genuine interest in children’s well-being and development. The CHILD instrument is comprised of nine dimensions and 28 behavioral-specific items that assess social interactions including staff-child, child-child, and staff-staff interactions; verbal and nonverbal behaviors, and overt and subtle cues; and issues of equity and inclusion.

The CHILD dimensions include:

  • Transitions
  • Directions and Rules
  • Social and Emotional Learning
  • Staff Awareness
  • Staff Affect
  • Staff Cooperation
  • Staff-Child Interactions
  • Individualized and Developmentally Appropriate Pedagogy
  • Child Behaviors

Which program(s) could use the CHILD?

Center based programs that enroll children in preschool classrooms.

CHILD Assessment Process

External CHILD assessments are conducted by a reliable CHILD assessor from the Program Quality Assessment (PQA) team. Assessments occur in four 20-minute coding blocks.

Programs partner with the Quality Coach and PQA team when planning for and conducting internal assessment, and when analyzing the information collected during the internal assessment process. In accordance with author guidance, a virtual assessment will be conducted by a reliable CHILD assessor for programs selecting CHILD for internal assessment.

How does the CHILD support Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)?

Information gathered during a CHILD assessment can be used by the program to help identify positive social and emotional climate, as well as areas for growth. The information gathered can also be used to help create the program’s continuous quality improvement plan.

Additional Information/Training

Additional information on CHILD can be found at:

Are you interested in using the CHILD for internal assessment?

How to Conduct an Internal Assessment Using the CHILD (PDF) is a good place to start. It provides an at-a-glance of the assessment details, a list of materials to support internal assessments, links to professional learning resources, and step-by-step guidance for conducting the internal assessment.


Return to the main Program Observation Instrument (POI) page.


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