Child Care Sites Earn High Ratings
2017 Quality Matters ratings are in!
We have new ratings for 40 licensed child care programs participating in Quality Matters, Contra Costa County’s quality rating and improvement system that helps programs offer the best care possible.
Combined with ratings completed last year, we’ve rated 108 licensed child care programs. Nearly 90% are meeting benchmarks and standards for quality care. View all ratings here.
How ratings work.
Quality Matters rates child care programs using a scale of one to five on elements including:
- Providing positive, engaging teacher-child interactions
- Providing a safe, healthy and stimulating environment
- Teacher training and qualifications
- Using recommended assessments to check if children are learning new skills and developing on track
- Ratio and class size (centers only)
Family child care programs, private centers, and public centers, such as Head Start or state preschool programs, participate.
Programs are rated every two years and receive intensive coaching, training, financial incentives and support to maintain or improve ratings. Of the 40 programs rated in 2017, 28 were rated for a second time and 12 received their first rating. Ratings of “3” or above mean programs have met quality standards and benchmarks.
Results for the 28 re-rated programs in 2017 show that:
- Nearly every program is meeting quality standards and benchmarks.
- 11 programs increased their ratings, many moving from a 4 to a 5, a rating difficult to achieve.
- 16 programs received the same rating.
- Only one program decreased its rating.
In the five years since we launched Quality Matters, 83 child care programs have been rated twice. Eighty-four percent of these programs earned the two highest ratings, and most are state preschools or publicly-funded programs serving low-income children.
First 5 Contra Costa developed Quality Matters with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, Local Planning and Advisory Council for Early Care and Education, CocoKids, and Contra Costa, Diablo Valley, and Los Medanos Community Colleges.
To learn more or apply to participate, visit qualitychildcarematters.org.
Support Available for ECE Providers
Early care and education providers spend every day helping children learn and grow. Now it’s their turn.
The Professional Development Program (PDP) is accepting applications for 2017-18 from early childhood educators working with children birth to age 5 at licensed or licensed-exempt programs in Contra Costa County.
For nearly 20 years, the PDP has helped ECE providers advance their education and training in early childhood education, and rewarded them when they do. This year’s PDP is no exception.
Participants will receive financial incentives ranging from $300 to $1,250 when they earn six units of college coursework, attend reflective practice seminars, complete training hours, or qualify for lost wages reimbursements.
“The PDP has helped thousands of early care professionals in Contra Costa County become better trained teachers,” said First 5 Contra Costa’s Early Childhood Education Program Officer Edirle Menezes. “Children learn best in stimulating environments with well-trained teachers. We are fortunate to have thousands of these dedicated teachers in our county.”
When providers sign up for the PDP, they also receive support. First 5 Contra Costa funds three academic advisors in the child development departments at Contra Costa, Diablo Valley, and Los Medanos Community Colleges to help child care providers map out their college coursework, apply for stipends, textbook loans, or permits, and find tutoring. The three advisors met with over 700 local child care providers last year alone.
We partner with the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the Local Planning & Advisory Council for Early Care and Education (LPC) on this successful program. Combined, our efforts invest over $1.2 million annually to improve ECE teacher quality in Contra Costa County, with funding from local Proposition 10 funds, AB 212, and First 5 California.
FTo apply for the 2017-18 Professional Development Program, click here.
Join Quality Matters!
Licensed child care programs throughout Contra Costa County are invited to join Quality Matters, our quality rating and improvement system which supports and incentivizes child care programs to offer the best early care and education possible. Public and private centers and family child care programs can apply.
Quality Matters rates programs every two years on their level of quality on elements including teacher-child interactions, environment, teacher training and qualifications, use of recommended child assessments, and ratio and class size (centers only). Throughout the process, programs receive training, personalized coaching, and participation grants between $2,000 to $10,000 to prepare for their rating and improve quality. This comprehensive support really works.
Seven Elements of Quality Child Care
Selecting the right early care and education setting for their family is one of the most challenging and important decisions parents face. What exactly does quality child care look like?
Using the Quality Matters rating criteria and framework, here are the top seven elements of quality to look for or ask child care providers about when selecting quality child care for your child:
- Teacher-Child Interactions: Providers that interact positively with the kids in their care.
- Ratio and Group Size: Small group sizes and a small number of kids to every adult.
- Learning Activities: A mix of creative, fun and educational activities that are right for a child’s age and help them learn new skills.
- Staff: Warm and knowledgeable staff who have a lot of training and rarely quit. Providers have taken classes or earned degrees in Early Childhood Education.
- Environment: A rich learning environment with varied materials, activities and routines. Areas are healthy, clean and safe.
- Program (or Curriculum): Providers use a curriculum to meet learning needs and may hold parent-teacher conferences.
- Child Health & Development: Providers make sure children receive health screenings and that children are developing on track.
Quality Child Care Matters
Kids who attend quality early learning programs do better in life. That’s the message of a new campaign we’re co-sponsoring to educate parents about the importance of selecting quality child care for their children.
The campaign, called Quality Matters, also publicly launches Contra Costa County’s new system to rate and improve the level of quality licensed child care programs provide to young children. First 5 Contra Costa, the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and the Contra Costa Child Care Council are sponsoring the campaign.
“The important message to families is that quality matters when they choose a child care setting for their child. Research shows that children in quality child care are more successful academically and in life,” said Sean Casey, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa. “Quality Matters is improving the quality of child care in our county and will provide parents with tools they need to identify quality programs.”
Preschool Made a Difference
2015 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.
Coaches Help Improve Child Care Quality
Nelly Orantes, Director of Tiny Toes Family Child Care in Brentwood, says her coach Francisca Hernandez is one of the best things about being in our pilot child care Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), a system to rate, continuously improve, and communicate levels of child care quality. Francisca is part of a team of coaches who support the 104 child care programs participating.
“Francisca will always say, ‘Don’t worry if you cannot do it. We will do the best that we can – you don’t have to feel pressure.’ I think Francisca is a great, great support in this program. I couldn’t do it without her.”
Our Impact in 2015
2015 was another productive year at First 5 Contra Costa, as our funded programs continued to improve the lives of our county’s most vulnerable children and families. Take a look at some highlights accomplished by our funded programs in 2015:
Programs and activities funded by First 5 Contra Costa reached 5,100 children, 18,725 parents, and 1550 early care and education providers.
385 expecting and new parents received home visiting services, with 6,700 visits provided. We changed our home visiting model three years ago to provide more intensive and longer services. Since then, families are now getting more than twice the number of home visits and being served twice as long.
Last month, headlines were abuzz with results from a new study on Tennessee’s state-subsidized preschool program for poor children: Tennessee study casts doubt on preschool, Increased access to preschool does not guarantee increased achievement, and Study shows preschool gains may not last.
In the study, researchers from Vanderbilt University found that children who attended the program, which serves 18,000 low-income children, initially started kindergarten ahead on many school readiness measures. But by the time the children were in first grade, they started to score lower on standardized tests than kids who hadn’t even attended preschool.
Contra Costa Receives Grant to Improve Preschool Quality
Last month, the California Department of Education announced that Contra Costa County will receive an annual $1.4 million block grant to improve preschool quality for low-income children.
The block grant was included in California’s 2014-15 State Budget and provides $50 million in ongoing grants to support quality improvements in California preschools. The goal is to increase the number of low-income children attending high-quality preschools, which research shows prepares children for success in school and life.
The CDE block grant builds upon the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) – a uniform system to rate, improve, and communicate levels of child care quality – being piloted in 16 California counties, including Contra Costa. Locally, 101 child care programs are participating in the QRIS pilot.