QRIS1Our effort to create a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for child care programs in Contra Costa County is moving full speed ahead!

We just began our second year of the project and have 63 licensed child care sites participating, including private and nonprofit child care centers, publicly funded centers like Head Start, and family child care providers.

This means that Contra Costa is getting closer to having a system in place that helps parents easily identify and select high-quality child care programs for their children and that continually improves the quality of child care available.

Here’s how QRIS works: participating child care programs are rated and earn points for various elements of quality, such as teacher-child ratios, teacher qualifications, and teacher-child interactions. Sites receive a cumulative score based on their ratings, which parents can refer to during their child care searches.

But QRIS isn’t just a rating system; it’s also an improvement system.  Child care sites in the system receive support, training, and financial incentives to make improvements that lead to higher ratings and ultimately to higher quality child care programs.

QRIS2Long-time Concord family child care provider Benu Chhabra is excited about this aspect of the program.

“Over the years I’ve learned that you never stop learning. I believe QRIS will help me grow and learn in many ways.  I will gain more experience and knowledge to help me better interact with the children in my program,” said Chhabra.

We’re thrilled to be one of 15 counties in California implementing QRIS with our share of a federal Race to the Top (RTT) Early Learning Challenge Grant ($1.4 million).  Per the grant, most of our QRIS sites are located in low-income communities and serve infants and toddlers, dual language learners, children with special needs, and children eligible for state and federally subsidized programs.

Our partners on this project include the Contra Costa County Office of Education, Contra Costa Child Care Council, and the early childhood education departments at Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College, and Los Medanos College.   We expect to work with 90 child care sites during the RTT grant period, which ends December 2015.

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