Meet our New Child Care Quality Improvement Coaches


Francisca Hernandez, left, and Kellee Davis provide coaching and support to Contra Costa child care programs

Child care programs participating in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), like the one we’re piloting in Contra Costa County, make the greatest improvements when they have access to training, professional and educational support, and specialized coaching.

That’s where our new Quality Improvement Coaches Kellee Davis and Francisca Hernandez come in. As coaches, Kellee and Francisca help child care providers to be successful throughout the QRIS process, from preparing for an assessment, observation, or rating to meeting defined quality improvement goals. Ultimately, through coaching support and the technical assistance provided, QRIS participants receive higher ratings and children receive higher quality early education.

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100 Child Care Programs Join Our Quality Rating System

QRIS2One hundred child care programs in Contra Costa County are now participating in our new Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)!

Contra Costa is one of 17 counties in California implementing a pilot QRIS thanks to funding from a federal Race to the Top (RTT) Early Learning Challenge Grant. Our original portion of the grant was $1.4 million, but was increased to $2 million last year. The extra funds will be used to serve more sites and benefit additional children.

QRIS’s rate child care programs using consistent criteria and provide ongoing support to help child care programs improve their quality. QRIS’s also help families easily identify high-quality child care for their children. Continue reading

The Year for Preschool

fedsThere’s been a lot of talk in the last year about the importance of investing in early childhood education. We’ve heard from President Obama, business leaders, and governors from both red and blue states. In New York, Mayor Bill De Blasio and Governor Cuomo are even jockeying to see who will implement a universal preschool plan first.

Last week, at the federal level, we saw more than just talk.

The federal 2014 Omnibus spending bill, which was signed into law by the President, received bipartisan support and includes an additional $1 billion in funding for early childhood education programs. This is a great start.

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First 5 Launches Pilot Child Care Rating System

Parents looking for quality child care in Contra Costa will soon have an easier time identifying it, thanks to a new quality rating system First 5 Contra Costa and our partners are launching this month.

We’ve selected 20 child care centers to participate in a pilot Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) designed to support and assess the quality of licensed child care programs. Each site will be rated and earn points for various elements of quality, such as teacher-child ratios, teacher qualifications, and teacher-child interactions. The total points determine the overall rating, similar to ratings for hotels, movies, and restaurants.

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What’s the Latest on California’s Race to the Top Grant?

It’s been a few months since California was one of nine states to win a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant to improve early learning systems, particularly for children most in need. So what do we know so far about how these funds may benefit young children in Contra Costa County?

This first thing to note is that it’s not a lot of money. California originally requested $100 million, but received $52.6 million. The Bay Area’s portion of this will be $8.8 million over a four-year period, and Contra Costa will receive about $1.5 million. Despite the reduced funding, the grant is still expected to benefit 65% of children under five in California, or about 1.8 million children. Continue reading

A Good Day for Early Childhood Education

This morning we learned that California was successful in its bid to receive a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant from the federal Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

California was among 35 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, to submit an application to the $500 million state-level competition designed to improve early learning and development systems. Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington also received grants. Continue reading