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Quality Counts North State 

Frequently Asked Questions





Quality Counts is a voluntary program that supports an early care and education provider’s commitment to quality. By participating, a provider, such as a preschool teacher or family child care owner, is going above and beyond basic operating standards. To be licensed the programs already have to meet certain criteria, but by participating in Quality Counts the programs have access to training, coaching, funding for higher education, funding for program improvement, and more! Quality Counts supports programs in these ways to help them reach their quality improvement goals. Our hope is they can create or sustain nourishing and effective early learning and care programs that will help children to grow and thrive

How does my child care facility/home apply to participate in QCNS?

It’s easy! To submit an application go to the QCNS website here: Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the purple “Apply Here” button. We will look at what funds are available and you will be contacted with further information and instructions. The Local Coordinator in each county can help by answering any questions. Contact information for each county’s Local Coordinator can be found HERE. Once a provider has applied, the Local Coordinator will get in touch with them to schedule an orientation and get them started on their quality journey. 


Is my county a part of Quality Counts North State?

There are six counties that are part of Quality Counts North State: Shasta, Glenn, Tehama, Lassen, Trinity, and Modoc.


What are the benefits of participation?

High-quality early learning and care programs can have a lifelong, positive impact on young children and their families. Research continues to show that children in quality early learning and care programs are more likely to succeed in school and less likely to drop out, need remedial education, or end up in prison. Not only is a participating program showing their commitment to the future of our children, they also receive many benefits in return. The support and resources for quality improvement are primary benefits. Another benefit is the community recognition of participation. 


What are the requirements to participate?

Most early childhood education programs that serve children ages 0-5 are eligible to participate (except for Transitional Kindergarten). A program must be willing to set goals around improving or maintaining their quality level and follow program participation policies. Any specific requirements can be outlined by the Local Coordinator.


How long does participation in QCNS last?

This is a 3 year grant but a new MOU needs to be signed each year.  QCNS operates on the California State Fiscal Year which goes from July 1-June 30. You may choose to leave the program at anytime.


What is the time commitment to participate?

The actual time spent working on Quality Counts related activities varies greatly by provider. It depends on how often one is attending trainings, meeting with their Mentor Coach, invested in additional growth activities etc. The minimum time commitment is a quarterly virtual connection with the Mentor Coach for 30-60 minutes and attending a monthly 1-1.5 hour Community of Practice (CoP) meeting.  Additionally, an agency will work with their Local Coordinator to monitor program participation requirements which can range from an hour a year or more per year. A provider could choose to spend additional time, up to multiple hours per week, accessing the many professional development resources available.

Does a provider have to renew participation each year?

Yes, providers will be asked to sign an annual contract for participation at the beginning of the California State Fiscal Year in July. New providers may sign up at any time but depending on when a provider signs on may impact the amount of funding they receive in the year.


Who needs to sign the memorandum of understanding (MOU)?

To solidify program participation a Memorandum or Understanding (MOU) must be signed by your agency representative who has authorization to enter into financial agreements. The MOU is then signed by the Executive Director of First 5 Shasta and the Superintendent of Shasta County Office of Education.

How does QUALITY COUNTS support teachers?

Providers have access to trainings, coaching, scholarships, funding and more, to help them reach their quality improvement goals. A provider’s goals are individually selected and supported with resources by their Mentor Coach.

How is QUALITY COUNTS useful to parents?

Quality Counts identifies participating programs on the website, which shows parents who in their community are exemplifying their commitment to quality through program participation. Information about quality and ratings can help a parent determine how to select care for their child. Quality Counts works with local Resource and Referral agencies to help the community understand the importance of quality and where to find it.


How is QUALITY COUNTS different from NAEYC Accreditation?

Quality Counts is an on-going support and quality improvement system with a variety of individualized resources. There are some elements of NAEYC accreditation shared with the Quality Counts Rating Matrix. NAEYC accreditation can also qualify a Quality Counts provider to receive the highest level of points possible for the program environment element on the Rating Matrix.


Will a participating program be required to share child-level data with QUALITY COUNTS?

No information that identifies any child or their families will be collected by Quality Counts North State.




How is QCNS Funded?

Quality Counts is a program funded by multiple state-level grants all geared towards quality improvement. IMPACT is one of the funding streams that supports Quality Counts and is administered by First 5 CA. The CSPP Block Grant grant funding comes from the California Department of Education. And the QCC Block Grant is provided by California Department of Social Services. 


How is funding distributed?

Electronically sign the MOU your county Local Coordinator sends to you. After you sign, your Local Coordinator will submit a funding request for your initial allocation. The funds will be mailed to you in the form of a check. The funding amount depends on your Pathway. Your year-end allocation is issued after your final coaching visit and program evaluation which will be completed by May 30th. 


What are the steps I need to do to earn my final allocation?

Second allocation is issued after your year end program evaluation (review completed by May 30). Your mentor should initiate this automatically after your third mentor session but you can ask your mentor or contact the local coordinator to confirm.


What can be purchased with the site's quality allocation funds?

There are a variety of options for the use of a site’s quality allocation funds to improve the site environment and contribute to professional development opportunities. Most purchases that increase quality and are tied to site Quality Improvement Plan, except for consumables and food, are allowable. 


Does this mean the provider will be making more money?

Quality Counts North State does not contribute to or supplement provider wages. There are still many benefits to participation as listed above. In some agencies, higher education levels of staff lead to greater compensation based on agency salary schedules. Quality Counts also participates in state-wide data collection and advocacy efforts with the goal of increased access to quality programs and higher reimbursement rates for early childhood educators


What are my financial obligations?

Spend your allocation and receive the items prior to 6/30.  Purchase non-consumable items for use at your facility based on the need within the  goals of your program.  Maintain all QCNS documents and receipts for 5 full years in the event of an audit.




What is CLASS?

The CLASS or the Classroom Assessment Scoring System is an assessment tool used to measure the quality of adult-child interactions in early care and education settings. The proper tool is selected based on the ages of the children present. Adult-child interactions are a measurement of quality on the Quality Counts Rating Matrix and the CLASS scores can be used to determine the number of points a site receives for that element.


What is ERS?

The Environment Rating Scale (ERS) is an assessment tool used to measure the quality of the early care and education environment. The ERS can be done in a variety of settings include center-based care (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, ECERS), Family Child Care Homes (Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale, FCCERS) and for Infant/Toddler center-based care (Infant Toddler Environment Rating Scales, ITERS).


How often is a program expected to have an ERS Assessment?

A program may choose to have an ERS (Environment Rating Scale) assessment done as often as every 13 months, unless significant change warrants assessment earlier. No program will be assessed unless an assessment is requested. Currently, due to COVID-19 all ERS assessments on hold until further notice.


Does QUALITY COUNTS provide quality ratings of programs to the public?

Yes, Quality Counts is required to make ratings publicly available. We’ve chosen to do so through local Resource and Referral agencies and on the Quality Counts North State website. Privately funded sites can choose to not have their first certified rating made public. Additionally, only California State Preschool Programs (CSPP) are the only programs required to be rated.




What types of trainings will be provided?

A variety of trainings will be offered. Trainings will be relevant to the Rating Matrix and Pathways elements and chosen based upon survey results across the region. Examples of trainings include but are not limited to adult-child interactions, program environment, behavior management, and program administration.


When will the trainings be?

Taking into consideration the various ECE providers attending trainings, the schedule will be varied according to audience. Evening and weekend trainings are often requested so family child care providers can attend. Trainings are also offered during the work week when appropriate. Whenever possible, we work to bring trainings locally and virtually to equitably provide access to professional development opportunities.


Will there be any incentives to attend the trainings?

Quality Counts North State does not offer direct financial incentives for providers attending trainings. We either offer trainings free of charge or allow a provider to use their quality allocation funds to attend outside trainings. Additionally, allocation funds can be used to pay for a provider’s substitute so they can participate in professional development opportunities. There are often non-monetary incentives offered to those participating in professional development. This can include training material, meals, networking opportunities, professional development certificates and simply the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. For sites that are rated, professional development hours can also help a site be rated higher.

PLEASE NOTE: For the possibility to receive monetary incentives for trainings contact your Local Coordinator and ask about what can be made available from the Workforce Pathways Grant.




How often do I need to meet with my mentor

At least once per quarter, so four times in a year of participating. This year (2020-2021) we only expect providers to connect with their mentor three times due to COVID-19 complications.


What is a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) How does a program create a QIP?

A QIP is essentially an action plan to achieve a goal you have for your program. A provider works with their coach to set goals and develop a QIP. The QIP will be entered into the iPinwheel data system by the coach where it can be accessed any time either by the provider directly or with the help of the Local Coordinator.

Example: Program has a goal to improve their health and safety standards. To do so all staff will renew their First Aid/CPR licenses and allocation funds will be used to purchase an outdoor hand washing station.




What is a Community of Practice?

“Communities of Practice (COP)” are groups of people who share a concern, work, or a passion for something they do to learn how to do it better (practice) as they interact regularly (community)”. These are informal meetings with an opportunity to share and learn from those who do the same work as you


Does my program need to participate in the Communities of Practice (COP)? 

All sites, aside from Head Start sites, need to have someone from the site participate in a monthly COP. 


How many Communities of Practices do I need to participate in?

Family Child Cares and Centers need to attend one each month starting in January 2021. If you miss one COP in a month you can make up to two COPs in another month. For Family Friend and Neighbor (FFNs) their COP will be a quarterly play group. Alternative sites will partner with their coach to offer these playgroups and will count at their COP.


How many staff need to attend each COP?

At least one but preferably one from each classroom and site participating in QCNS through your agency.  


What if I miss a COP?

There will be multiple opportunities each month. You can also make up two CoP attendances in a month. For this year 2020-2021, we want participating sites to attend six COPs. 


How do I know what COP to attend each month?

You will attend a COP that correlates to your goals that you have set for your program. For example: If you are working on an ERS or CLASS goal- you will attend an ERS or CLASS COP that represents the topics of need within your ERS goal. There will be choices within each month for different topics with ERS and CLASS. Your mentor will help you determine which COP will best fit your needs.


For COPs what time of day will they be offered? Will they be directed towards teachers or directors to participate?

The COPs will be offered at varying times of the day including evenings, nap-times, etc. to accommodate teacher, director, administrator schedules.The CoPs will be on varying topics and are open for any staff to participate in. One staff per site will fulfill the monthly CoP attendance requirement. 




What is Pinwheel?

Pinwheel is the name of the data base our Quality Improvement program utilizes. It is where we keep participating Agency, Site, and Session information. 


What are Provider’s Pinwheel Requirements?

The Pinwheel requirements are not extensive. We just want the providers to make sure all staff, contact information, and addresses are correct. We also want them to input their Workforce Registry numbers once they create their accounts. Trainings and recording will be made available for the providers to show them how to navigate Pinwheel.




How does a provider apply for scholarship money?

A scholarship application is filled out by the applicant, required documentation is submitted, and signatures of the applicant’s supervisor (if applicable) and Local Coordinator are obtained. The Scholarship Application can be found HERE

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