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In 2014, Guam’s completed a pilot of its QRIS by rating 11 of its 42 licensed center-based programs. Pilot programs received improvement and rating supports from a facilitator who was assigned to work with them. There are four levels to Guam’s QRIS and its indicators of quality related to: scores on the ECERS and ITERS; education and training; and health and safety. Guam’s professional development indicators build off of their Early Childhood Care & Education’s Plan for Professional Development which guides providers in planning to receive additional education and training to improve the quality of early care and education they provide. A new QRIS contractor began administering the QRIS in the middle of 2014 and the timeline for their rolling out of rating of other programs is currently unknown.
Louisiana’s QRIS, Quality Start, is a 5-Star voluntary block system that has been in operation since 2007. Louisiana began piloting a new QRIS in 2013 that incorporates many of the components of the existing Quality Start QRIS like ratios, staff qualifications, and family engagement, as part of a comprehensive public profile that will be available for all participating programs. This new system will make final rating determinations based on an observational assessment score. It will have three levels (needs improvement, proficient, excellent) and participation will be mandatory for center-based, school-based, and Head Start programs. Continued pilot-testing of the revised system will take place through early 2016 with the expectation of a full launch in September 2016.
Hawai`i completed a pilot in 2014 to test the feasibility of scaling their quality improvement initiatives up to the statewide level. Following the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant in November 2014, they have chosen to focus on ensuring that they are meeting the health and safety, training, and monitoring requirements in that new law rather than on formal QRIS development. Hawai`i continues to implement their on-going quality improvement initiatives, which include the Learning to Grow program which provides resources in the area of child development to license-exempt providers; support to licensed and registered providers in meeting USDA food program requirements; free and low cost training for early care providers; scholarships to practitioners to complete a Child Development Associate credential or towards early childhood college credits; and, training through the Healthy Child Care Hawai`i for pediatricians so that they can act as early childhood health consultants for licensed providers.
The District of Columbia's Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS), Going for the Gold, began in 2000 and is a three-tier system of Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The Bronze level is equivalent to licensing and the Gold level to national accreditation. The District successfully launched its Enhanced QRIS pilot program in April 2016 to advance and align quality standards across DC’s three-sector system. The Enhanced QRIS pilot aims to align supports to research-based quality standards and target areas of improvement through collaborative partnership between child development providers, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and other agencies; and provide meaningful consumer information. The enhanced QRIS has three components: a rating, a continuous quality improvement (CQI) plan, and a public-facing profile. The enhanced QRIS will have four tiers of quality and use a combination of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), the Environmental Rating Scales (ERS), and in-seat attendance (for pre-K programs only) to rate programs. The CQI plan includes a set of quality standards that are common to all programs that serve children birth to age 5. These standards align with already existing standards for the three primary sectors currently operating early childhood education programs in the District: public charter schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, and community-based organizations (primarily licensed center-based early care and education). The quality indicators in the CQI plan include: mission statement, attendance policies, family engagement, child progress monitoring and assessment, use of curriculum, culturally and linguistically responsive practice, inclusion practices, and professional development. The public-facing profile will include the rating, elements of the CQI plan, and additional information that will be beneficial to families, such as hours of operation, group size and ratios, and results of licensing and monitoring visits.
Wyoming currently has no QRIS,but is working jointly with the Wyoming Early Childhood State Advisory Council on identifying technical assistance options to explore a system of ECE quality improvement. They are working to develop quality standards that will align with their Early Learning Guidelines and Early Learning Foundations. A career ladder for providers is also currently under development.
West Virginia has been working to develop a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for early care and education programs for several years. In 2008, a tiered reimbursement system was put into place with three quality tier levels for licensed child care programs. In 2009, legislation was passed mandating implementation of a QRIS but without the funding to support it. The tiered reimbursement system encompasses some components of a QRIS, like the use of quality standards and paper documentation to verify compliance with standards, but it does not include the full range of incentives and supports for programs and practitioners that the full QRIS would entail. The system is also lacking consumer education and awareness, such as a name for the QRIS and detailed information available to parents. New legislation has been proposed that would allow for easier updating of quality standards as best practices change, would be less restrictive and broader in scope, and would include all early childhood education sectors and settings. In consultation with the QRIS Advisory Council, the standards for the proposed QRIS have already been revised. The Council is aiming to develop a four-tier reimbursement system that includes technical assistance, on-site monitoring, multiple pathways to quality, and inclusion of all early childhood and school-age care programs, among other features.
The Virgin Islands’ QRIS, Step up to Quality, is a five level system that has been in a pilot phase since 2013. As of October 2015, there were 23 programs participating in the pilot. Four standards comprise the Step up to Quality system, including: professional development and staff qualifications; teaching and learning environments; facilities, operations, policies, and leadership; and family and community engagement. Programs start at the first level, which is equivalent to licensing, and progress through each additional level. In-person technical assistance, quality improvement grants, training and scholarships for professional development are provided to programs to help them progress through the levels. Full implementation of Step up to Quality is planned to take place in late 2015 through 2016.
The Texas Rising Star (TRS) Provider Certification has been in existence since 1991. During the 2013 Texas legislative session, the legislature established the TRS workgroup to review the TRS guidelines and make recommendations for revisions to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The legislature requires TWC to propose rules based on the recommendations they receive from the workgroup. On July 3rd 2014, the TRS workgroup submitted the recommendations to TWC. In 2015, TWC approved revisions to the TRS child care certification program, including modifications to the standards required of child care providers. The modifications include a new rating and logo system that will make it easier for parents to choose a child care provider with advanced levels of certification. The new logos indicate which level of certification has been met by the child care providers participating in the TRS certification system. TRS certified providers offer quality care that exceed the State’s Minimum Child Care Licensing Standards in five categories: director and staff qualifications; caregiver-child interactions; curriculum; nutrition and indoor/outdoor activities; and parent education and involvement. TRS certified childcare providers exceed minimum licensing requirements to obtain a progressively higher level as follows: 2 star level (exceeds minimum licensing requirements in all five categories); 3 star level (meets high-quality standards in all five categories); and 4 star level (meets highest standards of quality in all five categories). The enhanced standards and new star ratings were effective Sept. 1, 2015. Additionally, for FY 2017, TWC will provide funding to support for the Texas Early Childhood Workforce Registry. The Texas Workforce Registry will be available to TRS providers- at no charge. The Registry is a web-based application for early childhood education (ECE) professionals to record their education and employment history, and training hours. Child care providers, parents and other individuals can learn more about the TRS program by visiting Texas Rising Star website at: https://texasrisingstar.org/wordpress/.
South Dakota is working to develop a system of recognition for early care and education providers that aligns with the licensing requirements in the Child Care Development Block Grant reauthorization of November 2014. They currently operate five Early Childhood Enrichment Sites throughout the state that act as a hub for training and technical assistance to ECE providers. They are also working towards providing credit to programs that go above and beyond licensing standards, although the form that this additional credit will take is currently unknown.
Pasitos (Little Steps toward quality improvement of child care services) is Puerto Rico’s islandwide Quality Rating and Improvement System that began in 2010. It has five levels that are arranged within a points rating structure. Eligible licensed programs are rated based on the following ten areas: 1) Positive relationships, 2) Daily activity planning to stimulate children’s development (curriculum), 3) Teaching Strategies, 4) Assessment of children’s progress, 5) Health and safety, 6) Teachers professional background, 7) Family involvement, 8) Community relationships, 9) Learning environment, and 10) Leadership and Management (policies and procedures). Pasitos evaluates the services offered by early childhood centers from the private and public sectors. It is a voluntary self-assessment process.
The Kansas QRIS is now Links to Quality. Kansas is working to develop and implement a system of recognition for early child care providers. The system will utilize a block system and is comprised of 5 levels. Child care programs will be recognized for their quality levels in the areas of 1) Program Leadership, 2) Family Partnerships, 3) Learning Environment and 4) Workforce Development. A field test is set to begin spring of 2017.
Connecticut is conducting focus groups throughout the Fall of 2016 to solicit input and create a QRIS draft model to be released in the Spring of 2017. Previous work completed in Connecticut is guiding this work. Five pillars have been identified as being the foundation of a QRIS. Those pillars are: 1) health & safety, 2) family engagement, 3) workforce education and professional development, 4) program environment, and 5) leadership.
American Samoa’s QRIS is intended to be a 5-star system, with the 2-Star level indicating that programs are meeting licensing requirements. The QRIS is in the later stages of refinement and as of June 2015 they were deciding whether to include an observational assessment of quality in the rating and, if so, which measure to use. The categories of rating indicators will be parent engagement, administration, professional development, and health/safety. A pilot of these standards took place in October of 2015. Quality improvement supports for programs will include coaching and training opportunities for providers.
In July, 2016 Alaska launched Phase I of Learn & Grow. Phase I of Learn & Grow includes Block Level’s 1 & 2 of 5 levels of quality and is available statewide to all licensed child care programs. Learn & Grow and its early care and learning partners are working to align QRIS quality standards for pre-elementary programs (Head Start and state Pre-K), finalize block Level’s 3, 4 and 5, and continue collaboration with before and after school programs. Learn & Grow is located and managed by Alaska’s CCR&R network, called thread. Learn & Grow leverages thread and SEED (System for Education Early Development, also located and managed by thread) resources such as technical assistance, training, funding, assessment, professional development registry/ career ladder, and training approval system. Learn & Grow is actively engaging early care and learning programs throughout the state and successfully met its year one participation goal within the first two months of its launch.
The Alabama Quality STARS QRIS began full implementation in February 2016. Eligible programs include licensed centers and center programs that cannot be licensed by the Alabama Department of Human Resources such as military, public school, college and university, and Tribal programs. Alabama Quality STARS is a five STAR “building block“ system. Programs must meet all standards at a STAR level before moving to the next level. The STARS Standards are based on four components: 1) Staff Qualifications and Professional Development, 2) Management and Administrative Practices, 3) Learning Environment and Curriculum, and 4) Family Involvement and Community Partnerships. A pilot of Alabama Quality STARS for family child care programs is scheduled to start in 2017.