Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies
County Program Profile: Santa Cruz
Time Period: 2018–2019
QRIS :: Quality Counts Santa Cruz County
The local 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, the QRIS helps early care and education providers improve quality so that children are prepared for kindergarten and prepared to succeed in school. 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 2012, over 80 early care and education sites have participated in the Santa Cruz County QRIS. Those sites range from small family child care homes to large California State Preschool and Head Start centers. For each, voluntary participation in the QRIS 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 the Santa Cruz County QRIS may be eligible to receive coaching, technical assistance, 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 the local QRIS are committed to quality. Going beyond licensing requirements, each participating program in QRIS 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
- Proposition 10
- First 5 California (IMPACT)
- California Department of Education (CSPP QRIS and I/T QRIS Block Grants)
- Encompass Community Services
- Go Kids
- Praxis Consulting Group
- Cabrillo College, Early Childhood Education Department
Process to Outreach/Onboard Programs and Providers
We have met our goal of 54 family child care providers per our Performance Measure Table targets. We are in the process of recruiting up to eight new center sites. In 2018–2019, our Communications Committee worked on MOUs and outreach strategies, and will begin implementation and recruitment in fall 2019. The addition of Educator/Director Kits will help promote Quality Counts Santa Cruz County, as well as resource incentives for sites and financial (stipends) incentives for teachers.
Quality Improvement Program Support Strategies
We provide both technical assistance and coaching to Quality Counts Santa Cruz County sites. This past year we have focused our efforts on recruiting family child care (FCC) providers and supporting assessment readiness for both FCC providers and centers. To this end, specific trainings were offered to support assessments (CLASS, ERS) and other rating elements (DRDP, PITC, ASQ) toward the December 2019 rating.
Local Approach to Offering Financial Incentives and Stipends
For system-wide trainings incentives include stipends for attendees, materials for classroom or home, and funding for release so teachers can attend trainings.
For program-level trainings and investments incentives include request for resources format that addresses quality improvement strategies tied to individual program Quality Improvement Plans. These may include coaching; training materials; materials related to Rating Matrix tools (DRDP, ASQ, ERS, CLASS); release time for teacher training and coaching; stipends; smf technology 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.Child Care Provider