Quality First

Arizona’s Quality Improvement and Rating System

Research tells us that 85 percent of a child’s brain is fully developed by age 3, 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

The goal of Quality First, Arizona’s Quality Improvement and Rating System, 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.   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
    • Strategies to support teaching and administrative practices
    • Ideas to strengthen family involvement
    • Guidance on how to use financial incentives to address barriers to reaching quality improvement goals
    • Team support with child care health consultation, as well as Smart Support Mental Health Consultation and Early Care and Education Inclusion Coaching, where funded


Participation in Quality First is voluntary. Regulated center-based child care and family/home-based providers are eligible to apply for services.


Coaching and Incentives for Child Care Centers and Homes

Lead Agency: Valley of the Sun United Way

Partnering Agencies: Southwest Human Development, Association for Supportive Child Care, Easterseals Blake Foundation, and Child and Family Resources.

Geographic Scope: Statewide


For more information about Quality First Coaching, contact Angela Zilch at (602) 633-8744 or [email protected]


Quality First Assessment

All programs enrolled in Quality First participate in regular program assessment. The tools used in the assessment process help to evaluate the quality of the environment and the quality of interactions and instructional support present in classrooms and homes.  Skilled Assessors provide detailed information to participating programs about the presence of indicators that are known to influence 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

Geographic Scope: Statewide


For more information about Quality First Assessment, contact Katie Romero at (602) 633-8652 or email [email protected]


Find additional information and apply to become a Quality First program online at qualityfirstaz.com



Helping Arizona Children & Families

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