Preschool Made a Difference

PMD2015 marked the end of our $6 million grant from the Thomas J. Long Foundation to provide scholarships for low-income children to attend high-quality preschool. The program provided scholarships for 650 children and improved child care quality for another 5,000 kids.

Even more, our early work assessing participating PMD preschools paved the way for the important work we’re leading now: the creation of comprehensive child care Quality Rating & Improvement System (QRIS) in Contra Costa County.

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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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Child Care Costs More Than College

Better start saving for college. You hear that a lot when you have a new baby. But a new report shows that you may actually need to start saving for child care.

According to the report produced by Child Care Aware, child care for an infant now costs more than public university tuition. In California, the average cost of full-time infant care in a center is nearly $12,000. Average college tuition is $9,022. California ranks seventh in the country for having the least affordable infant care.

Considering that many parents have two children under age five, annual child care costs can easily reach $16,000. That’s a huge chunk for a two-parent family (state median income is $80,766) and likely out of reach for a single mother (state median is $27,534).

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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