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Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies
County Program Profile: Santa Cruz
Time Period: 2019–2020
QRIS :: Quality Counts Santa Cruz County
Quality Counts Santa Cruz County (QCSCC): Our locally implemented Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) rates, supports, and rewards child care programs in Santa Cruz County that serve children with high needs. Administered by First 5 Santa Cruz County and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, QCSCC helps early care and education providers improve quality so that children have a strong foundation for kindergarten and future school success. Coaches and trainers work side by side with educators who are committed to quality and the use of evidence-informed best practices in early education. Santa Cruz County shares the quality rating of participating programs with families so they can make informed choices. Since our inception in 2012, over 110 early care and education sites have participated in the Santa Cruz County QRIS. Those sites range from small family child care homes to larger California State Preschool and Head Start centers. For each, voluntary participation in QCSCC is a mark of distinction and quality, as they have committed themselves to an intentional, rigorous, and ongoing process of self-reflection and improvement in the interests of the children they serve. Programs participating in Quality Counts Santa Cruz County may be eligible to receive coaching, technical assistance, trainings, stipends, and grants that align to their Quality Improvement Plan. How we determine quality and assign ratings Early care providers and educators who are rated by QCSCC are committed to quality. Going beyond licensing requirements, each participating program is assessed using valid and reliable tools and are then given a rating from 1 to 5 based on quality elements that include the following:
- Ratios and group size: More teachers and smaller group sizes help staff spend more quality and engaged time with individual children.
- Learning activities: Daily learning activities support each child’s interests, growth, and development as well as culture and home language.
- Environment: The setting allows children to learn and develop to their fullest potential. This includes high-interest activities, safety, and staff interactions with children in a safe and healthy environment.
- Health and child development: A child’s overall well-being is supported. This includes his or her physical growth as well as the ability to learn and get along with others.
Staff training and education
Directors and teachers are trained in child development and early learning. Some have college units or college degrees. Once rated, the quality of each site is characterized in one of three ways:
- Participating in Quality Improvement Efforts: Tiers 1 and 2—Sites are licensed and in good standing, meet child health and safety standards, and are actively focusing on quality and quality improvement.
- Achieving Quality Standards: Tiers 3 and 4—Sites are licensed and in good standing, meet child health and safety standards, are actively focusing on quality and quality improvement, and have achieved common quality standards defined by the QRIS.
- Exceeding Quality Improvement Efforts: Tier 5—Sites are licensed and in good standing, meet child health and safety standards, are actively focusing on quality and quality improvement, and have exceeded common quality standards defined by the QRIS.
County Contact Information
- F5 IMPACT
- CDE CSPP/CMIG Block Grant
- Early Learning and Care Workforce Development Pathways Grant
- First 5 Santa Cruz County
- First 5 Santa Cruz County
- Santa Cruz County Office of Education Local Planning Council
- Child Development Resource Center
- GoKids, Inc.
- Cabrillo College Early Childhood Department
Process to Outreach/Onboard Programs and Providers
QCSCC has prioritized participation as follows:(1) every state and federally funded early learning center in the county; (2) family child care homes that accept subsidy vouchers and/or receive state or federal funding; (3) private centers that accept subsidy vouchers, particularly those located in low-income neighborhoods and serving children that are dual language learners and/or infants and toddlers; and (4) programs serving children with special needs. In addition, QCSCC is building programs to support licensed-exempt home-based providers, typically called Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) care. All state and federally funded sites are participating and being regularly rated. Six additional centers serving high-impact children will be recruited over the next three years, meeting with the QCSCC Program Manager to complete a self-assessment and a Quality Improvement Plan. GoKids, Inc. takes the lead on providing technical assistance and coaching to the 60 family child care home providers enrolled in QCSCC. A waitlist has been established should more funding become available.
Quality Improvement Program Support Strategies
We provide technical assistance and coaching to Quality Counts Santa Cruz County sites. This includes training to individual sites, both center and family child care, or countywide trainings related to elements of the Quality Matrix. Sites that have newly joined QCSCC or have not yet achieved or exceeded quality standards receive coaching to support site Quality Improvement Plans. In addition, all enrolled center sites directors participate in a Professional Learning Community to take a deeper dive into the quality elements, assessment results, and leadership development.
Local Approach to Offering Financial Incentives and Stipends
QCSCC has a 2-pronged approach: Countywide trainings and Program-specific trainings: Countywide trainings focus on topics that are of interest to a majority of QCSCC participants. Incentives to attend these trainings include stipends for attendees, materials for classrooms or homes, and funding for release time so teachers can attend trainings. Program-level trainings and incentives include an application called a Request for Resources (RFR) that addresses quality improvement strategies tied to individual program Quality Improvement Plans. These may include coaching, training, materials related to Rating Matrix tools (DRDP, ASQ, ERS, CLASS), release time for teacher training and coaching, stipends, and technology supports to enhance assessments and coaching.
How Children Are Served by QCC
Children Served by Setting
Children’s Races and Ethnicities
QCC Tier Rating Distribution
Language Spoken with Children
“The [workshop series] has helped me to communicate with the children, and they have given us tools for the care of the children around dangerous things. It [the workshop series] has helped me pay attention to children when they talk to us, but we are busy.”Family, Friend, and Neighbor Provider