Quality Counts San Luis Obispo is part of a statewide system called Quality Counts California. Quality Counts California is a system of locally implemented quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS). Furthermore, Quality Counts California is a statewide effort to strengthen California’s early care and learning system to best support young children and their families.
How did Quality Counts California originate?
Collaborative state and local efforts to improve the quality of early learning and care programs for California’s children have been underway for more than a decade. This began in 2011 with the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, which provided states with funding to develop a statewide, locally-driven quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). When this funding expired in 2015, leaders from across the state agreed to consolidate these efforts into Quality Counts California, with funding from the California Department of Education’s QRIS Block Grants and First 5 California’s IMPACT (Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive) initiative. Collectively, these investments provide the opportunity to serve a full spectrum of program types, expand the reach of QRIS, and effectively increase quality throughout the state.
How does Quality Counts California support continuous quality improvement?
Under the banner of Quality Counts California, this statewide effort relies on locally operated QRISs. As the name suggests, a QRIS provides continuous quality improvement support and resources, assesses the quality of program elements, and provides a quality rating for a program that is ready.
All participating programs (e.g., centers; family child care homes; family, friends, and neighbors; license-exempt providers) can receive resources and incentives to help them continuously improve, regardless of whether they have been rated. Rated programs receive customized incentives and continuous quality improvement supports from information derived from the rating. Equally important, the ratings are made available to parents and families when deciding what early learning and care programs might be best for their child. The quality of teaching in early learning environments has a lasting impact. Quality Counts California recognizes that a critical component of a high-quality program is what happens inside the classroom and the interactions that take place between the educator and child. In a high-quality program, educators engage children with learning strategies that are tailored to meet the unique needs of each child. Quality interactions and environments affect children’s attitudes about education, readiness for kindergarten, and success in school and in life.
What does Quality Counts California include?
It is comprised of three layers of California’s current system – local, regional, and state. Local - There are 42 QRIS consortia operating across all 58 counties, with several multi-county consortia. Regional - First 5 IMPACT funding supports capacity building through a Regional Coordination and Training and Technical Assistance Hub structure, which enables all consortia to benefit from statewide investments. State - State-level systems development and coordination efforts include alignment across the two funding agencies (First 5 California and the California Department of Education, Early Learning and Care Division) and partner agencies (e.g., Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing, Head Start, etc.); statewide efforts to provide quality coaching quality training and trainers,and uniform data collection practices (e.g., workforce registry and QRIS database).