Research tells us that eighty-five percent of a child’s brain is fully developed by age three, and both in-home and out-of-home experiences can positively or negatively impact that development. The relationship between children and their caregivers profoundly impacts their learning and healthy development. This is why early care and education caregivers and experiences are so important to the future of young children. Participation in a quality early care and education program means children are engaged in activities with responsive, nurturing adults that stimulate development and learning and prepare children to successfully enter kindergarten.
Quality First – Coaching and Assessment
The goal of Quality First, Arizona’s Quality Improvement and Rating System for Early Care and Education Programs, is to improve the early care and education in Arizona so young children can begin school safe, healthy and ready to succeed. Quality First also provides families with information on selecting a quality early care and education setting for their young children. Participation in Quality First is voluntary, and regulated center child care and family/home-based providers are eligible to apply for services.
Quality First has two doors into its system. The first door is the Quality Improvement option which offers coaching, assessment, financial incentives, child care health consultation and T.E.A.C.H. ® Early Childhood Arizona scholarships to support program improvement. The second door is the Star Rating Program, which includes program assessment and review that leads to the assignment of a rating indicating a level of overall quality. The pilot for the Star Rating Program will begin in 2010.
As a participant in Quality First, homes and centers receive personalized support from a coach whose role is to help a program achieve and maintain quality. Coaches support enrolled child care providers in their efforts to achieve quality milestones.
Quality First Coaches will provide:
- Coaching and training activities tailored to the individual needs of centers and homes
- Classroom management tips and techniques
- Curriculum guidance and support
- Ideas to strengthen family involvement
- Team support with the T.E.A.C.H. ® Early Childhood Arizona scholarship program and child care health consultation
- Guidance on how to use financial incentives to address barriers to reaching quality improvement goals
All programs enrolled in Quality First participate in a process of program assessment. The tools used in the assessment process help to evaluate the quality or climate of the classroom or home environment/program. In addition, the assessment process offers information about the presence of indicators that are predictive of positive child outcomes. Southwest Human Development is the grantee for this service throughout Arizona.
Assessment of Child Care Centers and Homes
Lead Agency: Southwest Human Development
Partnering Agency: The Association for Supportive Child Care
Geographic Scope: Statewide
Coaching and Incentives in Central and Northern Arizona
Lead Agency: Valley of the Sun United Way
Partnering Agency: Southwest Human Development, Association for Supportive Child Care and Central Arizona College
Geographic Scope: Maricopa County
Find more information and apply to become a Quality First program by visiting www.azftf.gov.