High-quality early childhood education has the ability to change the trajectory for young children, giving them the experiences and skills needed to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Research shows that all children benefit from high-quality preschool, but low-income children and English language learners benefit the most. 

Quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) are a nationwide effort to ensure that all children have access to high quality early learning programs. QRISs support early childhood educators to raise their quality by assessing them and providing targeted training and supports.

“In Los Angeles County, over a quarter of the nearly 800,000 children under the age of 5 live below the poverty line, and over half speak a language other than English at home. ”

There are more than 10,000 early childhood education providers. While LA County has a long history of quality improvement initiatives and was operating two separate QRISs, the release of California IMPACT funds in 2015 represented a pivotal opportunity to develop and implement a vision and model for an effective and sustainable countywide QRIS.

First 5 LA convened early learning partners to develop the countywide QRIS, including Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), Child360, Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles (CCALA), County of Los Angeles Child Care Planning Committee, PEACH (Partnerships for Education, Articulation and Coordination through Higher Education), and the Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education (OAECE). 

First 5 LA contracted with VIVA to provide strategic consultation, facilitation, and backbone support throughout the 3 year process. VIVA’s approach to this large-scale systems building project was to define the parameters and metrics of success, learn about best practices and ways the parties had historically operated, build a model for the integrated QRIS system, test the approach, and refine as required when scaling the system.  

VIVA’s commitment and leadership helped the QSLA partners develop a QRIS system that is communicating about quality with a shared voice, with shared standards, and shared quality improvement methods and incentives. The work has included the voices of parents, center and family child care providers, and other stakeholders at different points in time to ensure the system, communications plan, and communications materials VIVA created were built with their perspectives in mind. There are now over 45,000 Los Angeles County children enrolled in a Quality Start LA program.  

Key activities of this partnership:

  • Partnership agreement and memorandum of understanding
  • Governance structure
  • Facilitation of leadership team and committees
  • QRIS vision development
  • QRIS model development
  • Cost modeling
  • Stakeholder surveys
  • Stakeholder focus groups
  • Communications plan
  • Brand development
  • Website management
  • Digital and print marketing materials
  • Social media campaigns
  • Advocacy materials and outreach