Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies
County Program Profile: Los Angeles
Time Period: 2018–2019
QRIS :: Quality Start Los Angeles
Quality Start Los Angeles (QSLA) is a voluntary Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for early learning providers in Los Angeles County. QSLA aims to elevate the program quality of participating providers, center-based and family child care, through hands-on support, professional development, and financial incentives. Additionally, QSLA informs families with young children birth to age 5 with information related to identifying quality in early learning environments to help with their decision when selecting an early learning program. This initiative is a collaborative effort between the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), the Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles (CCALA), First 5 LA, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), and the County of Los Angeles Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education.
QSLA rates programs on specific quality measures found in the California Quality Rating Matrix such as learning activities, teacher-child interactions, and environment. Ratings range from 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest quality. Since 2015, more than 800 early learning programs have enrolled in QSLA and have been rated and/or received support to enhance the quality of their early learning program.
County Contact Information
- QRIS CSPP Block Grant
- QRIS I/T Block Grant
- First 5 LA
- First 5 CA IMPACT
- Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles
- Los Angeles County Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education
- Partnerships for Education
Process to Outreach/Onboard Programs and Providers
The Quality Start Los Angeles (QSLA) website has a Letter of Interest (LOI) that providers can fill out and send to QSLA to be added to the waitlist throughout the year. The LOI is used to track interest and to notify eligible providers when there is an open enrollment period based on funding. Currently, there is a waitlist of about 65 providers seeking to enroll in QSLA.
QSLA uses a cohort model to ensure assessment and ratings are completed in a timely manner and to help with assessment and coaching caseloads. In alignment with this model, new providers may be added twice a year if there is the opportunity to enroll. Based on the funding available, a recruitment email is sent to the appropriate early learning and care providers on the waitlist who meet specific high-priority indicators as identified by the QSLA Leadership Council. The recruitment email includes a video describing the benefits and purpose of QSLA. Currently, providers are encouraged to complete a PDF online application to enroll in QSLA as part of the onboarding process. However, QSLA is currently in the process of developing an electronic online application that will streamline the enrollment process. In addition, QSLA developed a comprehensive video that further explains QSLA expectations for participating providers, and this 30-minute video will be available on the QSLA website and used for newly enrolled providers as they go through the onboarding process.
At the time of assessment, a technical assistant (TA) offers providers up to three months of support to prepare for the assessment and tier rating processes. TAs work one on one with providers to review all of the California Rating Matrix elements. Document requirements are covered in detail, and TAs explain what to expect on the day of assessment to reduce assessment anxiety. Lastly, TAs review the early childhood education Workforce Registry and help staff at participating sites create a profile on the Registry so that sites are able to submit required staff qualifications and professional development documents. Once their assessment and rating have been completed, the TA helps explain the QSLA Tier Rating Report to sites and supports them as they transition to working with their QSLA coach.
Quality Improvement Program Support Strategies
After sites receive their tier rating, a Program Coach works with the lead teachers to co-create and implement individualized Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs) focused on data that may include the Environment Rating Scale (ERS), Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), and Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP). Quality Start Los Angeles (QSLA) providers develop a QIP to improve or maintain program quality as defined in the Quality Continuum Framework (QCF). The QSLA coaching model includes classroom observations, coaching, modeling, and on-site training. Program coaching focuses on the broad work of quality improvement, including setting the conditions for change in order to create a supportive, structured, and engaging classroom environment. The design of the model intends for sites to receive up to two hours of program coaching monthly per classroom. Each Program Coach carries a caseload of between 25 and 30 classrooms.
In addition, sites received specialty coaching focused on family engagement and program leadership. Specialty Coaches were assigned based on a provider survey, site needs, and availability. Each site received two hours of specialty coaching monthly with additional support provided at the site level. Each specialty coach carried a caseload of between 25 and 30 sites. Sites that worked with a Program Leadership Consultant (PLC) were provided technical assistance and mentoring in areas of leadership and program management. PLCs worked closely with Program Coaches to ensure that the site’s needs were met to reach QIP goals to further elevate the quality of the program.
The Family Engagement Specialist (FES) supported the intentional implementation of the Strengthening Families™ Framework to promote family resilience and optimal development of their children. The FES worked directly with teachers, directors, or other family support staff to provide a model for effectively engaging families in program activities and in their child’s learning and development at home and at school. Specifically, Tier 1–5 sites had access to a Program Coach and a Specialty Coach (PLC or FES). Tier 4–5 sites had the option to select between: (A) Program Coaching Only; (B) Specialty Coaching Only; (C) Both Program and Specialty Coaching; or (D) Opt-out with check-in requirements.
QSLA provides access to a wide range of professional development training topics for teachers, administrators, and families to help improve all aspects of program quality that lead to positive outcomes for children. In addition to in-person training, sessions are also available via webinars to meet the diverse needs of QSLA sites. Sites access the training calendar on the California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry website and the QSLA website (http://qualitystartla.org/professional-development/).
Local Approach to Offering Financial Incentives and Stipends
The Quality Start Los Angeles (QSLA) incentive model includes participation stipends for newly enrolled sites along with a Welcome Kit that includes talking points, tips for posting on social media, and QSLA-branded merchandise for teachers and directors. Providers in Tiers 1–2 receive a Quality Improvement Grant, Tier 1 center-based sites at $1,000 and Tier 2 sites at $2,000. Family child care homes at Tier 1 receive $500 and Tier 2 receive $1,000. The Quality Improvement Grant may be used for items such as minor renovations to address indoor/outdoor space improvements, technology equipment associated with quality improvement, and family engagement activities that promote a home-school connection (this names just a few items on the approved list).
Sites at Tiers 3–5 receive a Quality Achievement Award. Center-based sites receive $4,000 for Tier 3, $6,000 for Tier 4, and $8,000 for Tier 5. Family child care homes receive $2,000 for Tier 3, $3,000 for Tier 4, and $4,000 for Tier 5. The Quality Achievement Award (also known as block grants) provides sites rated at Tier 3, Tier 4, and Tier 5 more flexibility on the use of funds for quality improvement activities. This may include items noted above in the participation stipends and Quality Improvement Grants, and may also be used for professional development, staffing, and curriculum materials to enhance site quality. Another valuable financial resource available to QSLA site staff were the two workforce development stipend programs. QSLA teachers attending school were eligible and encouraged to apply for the Investing in Early Educators Program (AB 212) and the QSLA Stipend Program.
How Children Are Served by QCC
Children Served by Setting
Overall Child Characteristics and Services Provided
Children’s Races and Ethnicities
QCC Tier Rating Distribution
Language Spoken with Children
Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) Goals
You need to always change your program, to implement new things, and find new ways to work with children. Our story has been a success story.Center Director
A Family Child Care Owner shared: We deserve to be noticed, to be seen as a quality program, as a quality person, I would say. I’ll keep doing it until I retire—to give kids a place to grow and a place to develop in a healthy way.
There are several videos on the QSLA website highlighting providers’ testimonies on their participation in QSLA. Impact videos are found at: http://qualitystartla.org/quality-start-la-stories/