Quality Counts California (QCC) is a statewide effort to strengthen California’s early learning and care system to support young children and their families.
QCC focuses on quality early learning experiences that build the foundation for skills all children need in school, work, and life. (Reference: Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child)
QCC uses an equity approach as an essential component of quality to close the opportunity gap by prioritizing communities where we can make the highest impact. QCC supports quality early learning and care programs to promote environments, relationships, interactions, and activities supporting all children’s growth and development to prepare them for success in school and life.
History of QCC
QCC is a statewide system of locally implemented Quality Improvement Systems (QISs) that utilize data to inform the quality improvement process as well as track progress and outcomes from public investments. QCC participation can provide information to families (including rating, if applicable) to help inform families’ decision making when choosing a program that best supports their child. QISs that include formal program ratings as a data collection method are called Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRISs). QISs utilize a cycle of continuous quality improvement to understand impact and outcomes and help inform the process and system improvements.
In January 2012 the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant was awarded to the California Department of Education (CDE), which focused on improving California’s early learning and development programs and increasing access for children with high needs. California began dedicating resources to rating and assessing the level of quality in early learning and care settings to target resources and demonstrate effectiveness.
Through research, evaluation, and a focus on equity, QCC has shifted some funding away from formal rating to maximize resources and meet the diverse needs of our early learning and care providers. QCC continues to maintain some funding for public programs to conduct ratings, inform prioritization of quality improvement activities, and increase public accountability.
QCC uses an equity approach to close the opportunity gap by prioritizing high-impact communities. QCC supports quality early learning and care programs to promote environments, relationships, interactions, and activities supporting all children’s growth and development to prepare them for success in school and life.
The majority of states have a QIS or QRIS. For additional information on what those states are doing, please visit the national Quality Compendium.
QCC’s Governance Structure
Although QCC was originally funded through the CDE as the lead of the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant in 2012, QCC funding has been expanded to include other state agencies. QCC is now funded by a collaboration between First 5 California (F5CA), the CDE, and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).
QCC is composed of three layers of California’s current QIS:
Local – All 58 counties in California participate in the QCC system within a single consortium or multi-county consortia. QCC is implemented at the county and regional levels through locally operated QISs—all of which have data collection requirements that may include an optional rating component. QCC funders provide guidance to QISs, and then QISs work closely with early learning and care programs, providers, and early educators to support their commitment to quality, improvement, and growth. QCC at the local level is supported by funding from the CDE for the California State Preschool Programs, the CDSS for the QCC Block Grant, Workforce Pathways Grants and Quality Initiative Projects, and First 5 California for Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive (IMPACT).
Regional – In addition to local consortia funding, First 5 California’s IMPACT funds capacity building through a Regional Coordination Hub structure, which enables all consortia to benefit from statewide investments.
State – State-level systems development and coordination efforts include:
- Alignment across funding agencies (F5CA, CDE, and CDSS) and partner agencies (e.g., Head Start)
- Ongoing collaboration and communication between interest holders, including local lead agencies, regional partners, early learning and care providers, and parents, for continuous quality improvement of the QCC system
- Statewide efforts to provide quality coaching and training, workforce development, community education, and family engagement
- Ongoing systems improvement toward addressing equity and implementing systems changes that reflect the needs of communities and families and prioritize high-impact populations
Commitment to Quality Services
Ultimately, QCC is committed to providing resources and information about the importance of quality early learning and care programs as well as the lifelong positive impact they can have on children and families:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about QCC and QISs