In the absence of a statewide, uniform quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) in Florida,14 local early learning coalitions operate or are piloting voluntary QRIS programs. There are 30 local coalitions, each operating under a plan approved by the Office of Early Learning representing all of Florida’s 67 counties. The following Web sites are for a sample of the local QRIS projects:
Duval County, Guiding Stars of Duval: http://elcofduval.org/gsod_providers.asp
Hillsborough County, Quality Counts: http://www.elchc.org/quality_counts.html
Miami-Dade, Quality Counts: http://www.elcmdm.org/QualityCounts/index.htm
Palm Beach County, Quality Counts: http://providers.cscpbc.org/become-a-quality-counts-program
Sarasota County, Look for the Stars: http://www.earlylearningcoalitionsarasota.org/look_for_the_stars.htm
Organization: Florida’s Office of Early Learning
Web Site: http://www.floridaearlylearning.com
QRIS State Profile
This profile is from the QRIS Compendium—a comprehensive resource for information about all of the QRIS operating in the U.S. and its Territories. It was developed by a partnership of the BUILD Initiative, the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, and Child Trends.
QRIS Resource Guide Examples
Initial Design Process
Provider Input Valued in the Miami-Dade QRIS
The Quality Counts planning team in Miami-Dade County, Florida, hosted dozens of community listening sessions throughout the development of the QRIS. Meetings were held before the system was developed to learn more about what providers felt was important to measure. Draft standards were then shared with providers in different locations and at many points in the design process. The goal was to engage in regular communication to avoid surprises. The planning team culminated with an elaborate public launch that was attended by over 600 providers and featured high-profile speakers that expressed support for the effort. Additional information is available at http://www.elcmdm.org/QualityCounts/index.htm.
School Districts and Head Start Programs Active Participants in Miami QRIS
Quality Counts, the QRIS in Miami-Dade County, Florida, was designed to include public school prekindergarten classrooms, as well as community-based early childhood programs, including those that receive Head Start and Early Head Start funding. The program has been well received, largely because the QRIS offers an easy-to-follow road map on how to improve quality in early childhood classrooms, resources along the way, and data to track progress. Head Start and the public schools cover the cost of technical assistance, training, and improvements, and the Quality Counts project funds similar supports for privately operated programs. As of December 2012 , all Miami-Dade Head Start programs and 4% of public school pre-K classrooms, along with 32% of centers and 24% of family child care homes, were participating in Quality Counts. There is a waiting list of 151 programs wanting to participate in Quality Counts with 141 centers and 10 family child care homes. Another key strength of Quality Counts is that it offers schools and community-based programs a common language, and it has enabled leaders to begin a conversation about curriculum alignment and improved transitions. Additional information on Quality Counts is available at http://www.elcmdm.org/QualityCounts/index.htm.
Provider Incentives and Support
Early Care and Education Professionals in Miami-Dade County Develop a Key QRIS Element
System planners in Miami-Dade County, Florida, created the Quality Counts Career Center (QCCC) to raise the educational level and stability of staff prior to rolling out their QRIS. QCCC administers scholarships for formal education, supplementing the State’s Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) Early Childhood® Project funds; coordinates the WAGE$ incentive program; provides mobile Career Advisors to assist staff in QRIS programs to engage successfully in formal education; and maintains an online community training calendar. The professional development efforts are supported by a local registry that also serves as a documentation repository for the staff qualifications component of the rating system. Additional information is available at http://www.QCcareers.org.
Data Collection and Evaluation
Automation Helps Miami Manage the QRIS
Early childhood leaders in Miami, Florida, report that their Web-Based Early Learning System (WELS) makes the Quality Counts QRIS stronger because the system offers real-time feedback on participation, classroom profiles and assessments, professional development, technical assistance, coaching and mentoring, and other essential data for a wide range of purposes. Data are available in the aggregate, as well as for a particular program. This information makes it possible for planners to have the data they need and, at the same time, for program managers to receive alerts when one of the centers they are working with is not making timely progress. Additional information on the Quality Counts Portal is available at https://miamiqualitycounts.org/. Additional information about WELS is available at http://www.welsfoundation.org/about_wels.html.