At the start of 2017, over 120 early child care educators attended orientation sessions to learn more about what it means to be a participant in San Bernardino County’s first Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), Quality Start San Bernardino (QSSB). The educators represented licensed family child care homes, centers and state preschools passionate about providing the best care to the children and families they serve. This group is the first of many to be enrolled in the quality building program’s five-year plan.
The QRIS is a statewide initiative, managed at county and regional levels, which rates early care and education centers and family child care homes against established standards of quality. These standards are focused on three core program areas:
Child development and school readiness
• Social emotional development: The way a provider interacts with the children in their care can help them develop healthy social and emotional concepts, skills and strategies.
• School readiness: Optimal learning occurs when each child receives individual instruction and support.
• Health, nutrition and physical activity: Children’s health, nutrition and level of physical activity are key to their future success.
Teachers and teaching
• Teacher-child interactions in the classroom: Children receive one-on-one attention from their teacher.
• Teachers are lifelong learners: In QSSB, providers are given professional growth opportunities, relevant to life in a quality classroom.
Program and environment
• Environment: Both the indoor and outdoor environments ensure safety and educational opportunities.
• Program Administration: The teachers, children and families receive support from administration to ensure a stable learning environment.
• Family engagement: The site has a family-centered perspective. This promotes family resilience and optimal child development.
Raters and assessors, from San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and California State University San Bernardino, respectively, use observation and designated research tools to determine the rating of each site. The rating scale ranges from one to five, with one being “emerging quality” and five being the “highest quality.”
The rating they receive gives providers a clear picture of their level of quality, both their areas of strength and areas to improve upon. Each site is assigned a professional development coach from CCRC to help create an individualized Quality Improvement Plan. Coaches help connect providers to educational opportunities and work alongside them on their journey to even greater quality.
For QSSB staff, a provider’s choice to be a part of the program is the first sign of quality. Traci Brody, QSSB Rater, says, “Quality Start San Bernardino is a wonderful opportunity for providers, families and the community. I have been given the great opportunity to visit QSSB family child care homes and child care centers and I have seen the high quality care the children of San Bernardino County are already receiving.” Brody added, “All the providers and teachers truly care about the quality of care and education they are providing for the children. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for QSSB providers and the children in their care.”
Early care educators’ participation in QSSB puts a spotlight on what quality is and why it matters. The program will help parents and caregivers make the best decisions for their child. It also increases access to high quality environments for children across San Bernardino County.