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 they  They have access to trainings, coaching, funding for higher education, funding for program improvement, and more! Quality Counts supports them 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 can a child care program get involved?

It’s easy! Apply online at the QualityCountsNorthState.com website. 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.


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.


What can be purchased with 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 improvement plan, except for consumables and food, are allowable. See suggestions for the use of quality allocation funding HERE.


Does a provider have to renew participation each year?

A program only needs to apply once if there is continued engagement in Quality Counts. Once a program has applied and signed their initial contractual documents, the program will only need to re-submit those forms in future years if significant changes are made to the forms.


How often is the program evaluated with ECERS?

A program may choose to be 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.


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.


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 QualityCountsNorthState.com website, which shows parents who in their community is 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 than 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 will be collected by Quality Counts North State.


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.


How does a program get a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP)?

A provider works with their coach to set goals and develop a QIP. The QIP will be entered into the Pinwheel 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.


What's the difference between QUALITY COUNTS and IMPACT?

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 other grant funding comes from the California Department of Education.


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 ECERS?

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).


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 monthly connection with the Mentor Coach which can be a virtual session for 30 minutes, or an on-site visit for up to 2 hours. 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.


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.


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.

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