What is Quality Counts California?
- A statewide system of locally implemented quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS)
- A statewide effort to strengthen California’s early care and learning system to best support young children and their families
How did Quality Counts California originate?
Collaborative state and local efforts to improve the quality of early learning and care programs for California’s children have been underway for more than a decade. This began in 2011 with the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, which provided states with funding to develop a statewide, locally-driven quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). When this funding expired in 2015, leaders from across the state agreed to consolidate these efforts into Quality Counts California, with funding from the California Department of Education’s QRIS Block Grants and First 5 California’s IMPACT (Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive) initiative. Collectively, these investments provide the opportunity to serve a full spectrum of program types, expand the reach of QRIS, and effectively increase quality throughout the state.
A graphic shows three boxes all with arrows pointing up to a fourth box at the top that is labeled “Quality Counts California.”
The box at the top shows the Quality Counts California logo: the words “Quality Counts California” and a picture of five young children, standing in a line and holding hands, with a bright sun shining behind them. The first box at the bottom shows the First 5 California logo: a picture of a hand and the words “First 5 California.” The box says, “IMPACT (Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive).” The second box at the bottom shows the shape of a California map with the words “QRIS” in a circle on top. There are 5 circles with “QRIS” labeled across the shape of a California map. The third box at the bottom shows a picture of the seal of the Department of Education for the state of California. It says, “Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Block Grants.” The second box at the top shows a picture of the seal of the Department of Education for the United States of America. It says, “Federal Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge.”
How does Quality Counts California support continuous quality improvement?
Under the banner of Quality Counts California, this statewide effort relies on locally operated QRISs. As the name suggests, a QRIS provides continuous quality improvement support and resources, assesses the quality of program elements, and provides a quality rating for a program that is ready.
All participating programs (e.g., centers; family child care homes; family, friends, and neighbors; license-exempt providers) can receive resources and incentives to help them continuously improve, regardless of whether they have been rated. Rated programs receive customized incentives and continuous quality improvement supports from information derived from the rating. Equally important, the ratings are made available to parents and families when deciding what early learning and care programs might be best for their child.
The quality of teaching in early learning environments has a lasting impact. Quality Counts California recognizes that a critical component of a high-quality program is what happens inside the classroom and the interactions that take place between the educator and child. In a high-quality program, educators engage children with learning strategies that are tailored to meet the unique needs of each child. Quality interactions and environments affect children’s attitudes about education, readiness for kindergarten, and success in school and in life.
What does Quality Counts California include?
It is comprised of three layers of California’s current system – local, regional, and state.
Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change
How are our policies strengthening communities’ abilities to reduce sources of ‘toxic stress’ [upon young children] and caregivers’ abilities to provide what kids need? The development of our human capital is our future. The development of a productive workforce is our future. The development of a healthy population is our future. This kind of future orientation is critical for a healthy society. It’s critical for a thriving business. It’s critical for successful environments and relationships to raise children.