What is Quality Counts California?
Quality Counts California is a statewide system that works with local leadership to implement defined standards of quality in early care and education environments. Started in 2011 and led by the California Department of Education, Early Education and Support Division and First 5 California, the program engages with local consortia to implement Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). Consortia groups, commonly made up of members of education departments, First 5’s, resource and referral agencies and institutions of higher learning, are responsible for coordinating efforts around established standards and utilizing reliable tools to measure those standards. The goal of Quality Counts California is to create alignment among counties and utilize strategic funding to increase access to high quality care and education for infant, toddler, and preschool age children across the state.
What does this system mean for California Kids?
In the last seven years, the number of participating counties has increased from 17 to all 58. Although local consortia within the 58 counties are in various stages of development and implementation, almost 4,000 sites were enrolled and 266,399 children were served during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. These numbers are a strong indication of the impact the Quality Counts QRIS network will have on California children. When children have access to quality care and education they are more prepared for school and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend a four year colleges.
What does this mean for San Bernardino County?
Quality Start San Bernardino County (QSSB) is San Bernardino County’s QRIS. QSSB completed its first official program year in 2016-2017. Run by operational partners, First 5, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, Child Care Resource Center, and California State San Bernardino, QSSB served 117 sites and almost 6,000 children. Sites include center-based early programs, family child care homes, and family, friend and neighbor care providers. San Bernardino County is one of only 7 counties to included family, friend and neighbor providers. QSSB is currently in its second year and the number of participating sites continues to grow.
Last year, both state and county research indicated an important trend in quality care. Olivia Pillado, Research Manager from Child Care Resource Center explained, “The data collected through QSSB and Quality Counts California allows us to understand the reach of QRIS investments, identify successes and areas of needed support for maintaining or increasing program quality. Locally, we are also able to see what the program impact is in terms of number and diversity of sites, children, and providers served through QSSB to guide future outreach and program support efforts. “
QSSB is keeping up with Quality Counts California and will continue to share updates with you.