Quality Start San Bernardino County (QSSB) hosted its first annual Early Education Forum on February 27th, 2019. Members of San Bernardino’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) community gathered to discuss the importance, success, and future of QSSB. For the first time, every facet of the ECE community as well as a representative from the medical field assembled to discuss the collaborative effort of improving the quality of education and resources for families in San Bernardino County.
QSSB, a quality rating improvement system program, is designed to help child care programs and preschools provide high quality early learning experiences by: establishing standards that define what quality means and looks like for early care and education programs, connecting educators to professional development opportunities, and helping parents and caregivers find quality programs for their children.
San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, Ted Alejandre, remarked on the impact of this program, and the meaning of the gathering, “We’ve never had a coordinated effort to work together and build the expertise and skills of those in our early childhood education programs. If we can [create] a strong program for early childhood education, focusing on 0-5, then our students are going to be prepared for TK (transitional kindergarten) and K (kindergarten).”
The community luncheon featured a panel of early care champions including: David Olney, Superintendent of Hesperia Unified School District; Phalos Haire, Interim Director of the San Bernardino Preschool Services Department; Dr. Marti F. Baum, Help Me Grow Physician Champion; and Marissa Lazo-Necco, Family & Community Engagement Content Manager at San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. It was mentioned that there is a growing need to connect pediatricians and medical professionals into the ECE community. Panelist Dr. Marti F. Baum remarked, “Healthcare is a late comer to early care and education. When you have a coalition making sure no kid slips through the cracks, health care needs to become involved.”Dr. Marti
Looking toward the future, expanding community partnerships to increase a holistic approach to serving children, families and child care providers was a shared sentiment throughout the room. Keynote speaker Krista Murphy, with the Orange County Department of Education, concluded stressing the fact that in order to make true long lasting change, the community needs to continue to provide skill-building opportunities for adults who are critical in the lives of young children.
Even though San Bernardino County is unique in the fact that it is the largest county in America (by area), it has made tremendous strides in early care, with QSSB supporting the most family child care providers in the nation. By providing resources to these providers, the quality of education a child receives increases, therefore increasing the well-being of the entire family which beneficially influences the viability of the community as a whole.