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QRIS Resource Guide

Georgia

Quality Rated, a voluntary tiered QRIS,  is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early childhood education and school-age care programs. Quality Rated assigns a quality rating (1 Star, 2 Stars or 3 Stars) to programs that meet a set of defined program standards which exceed minimum state requirements.

Georgia Contacts

QRIS Name: Quality Rated

Organization: Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

Web Site: https://qualityrated.decal.ga.gov/

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

Georgia's Systemic Approach to QRIS Design and Implementation

Georgia began their work to create a QRIS with a strategic plan that would help them “ensure access to high quality early care and education by laying a foundation of learning and school readiness that will lead to future success for all Georgia’s children.” The system is research-based and informed by Georgia stakeholders and national experts. They first gathered Georgia stakeholders and partners to identify quality standards and indicators for Georgia programs. Then they brought in key research partners from FPG Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill to conduct an evaluation of quality in Georgia with a representative sample of child care programs across the state. Specifically, they were able to provide baseline quality assessments of the early care and education (ECE) system in three Georgia settings: child care learning centers in infant-toddler and preschool classrooms, Georgia’s Pre-K classrooms, and family day care homes. The findings from those evaluations presented the case for implementing the QRIS; furthermore, the data was also used to determine the feasibility of the tools for measuring the standards and indicators. There were other aspects of the ECE system that Georgia strengthened to support the QRIS: the early learning standards, CCR&R system, inter-rater reliability, and subsidy program. For example, before revising their early learning standards, they conducted a yearlong effort to provide the empirical data to assess the comprehensiveness and quality of their standards as well as their alignment with critical documents such as Georgia’s Pre-K Content Standards, Kindergarten through Third Grade Performance Standards and Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework. They also brought in experts to help them use the principles of implementation science to examine their CCR&R system and prepare for a realignment of services to more closely fit the needs of their QRIS. They conducted a broad-based study of the potential fiscal impact of QRIS standards on child care programs, giving the state a cost model that guided decisions about standards and financial supports that would be critical for programs to achieve those standards. To assure the integrity of licensing as a foundation of the QRIS, they conducted an inter-rater reliability study of licensing visits.  Finally, they did a thorough examination of their Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) subsidy program by convening a state-level task force to review all policies and procedures. The task force made recommendations for revisions that would connect CAPS policies to other key ECE initiatives in Georgia including the QRIS. For Georgia, ECE is a system and all components must be aligned and connected.

Provider Incentives and Support

Georgia's Dept. of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Used Cohort Model in Recruitment to Quality Rated

Recognizing that their early care and education system was composed of many subsystems, Georgia created a technical assistance cohort model to help the various subsystems as they moved through the Quality Rated process.  In their recruitment process, they grouped child care programs by cohorts, e.g., franchise systems, corporate chains, faith-based, Head Start, family child care associations, Montessori programs, etc.  A dedicated staff person was assigned to each cohort to facilitate their progress in Quality Rated.  For example, the staff facilitator arranged for the directors and teachers to meet with the Professional Development Registry staff and have an onsite review of the program’s staff credentials.  Cohort participants benefited from targeted technical assistance, system level support for quality reform, professional networks to support continuous quality improvement and ongoing professional growth.  The staff facilitators’ work with the corporations often resulted in changes in the corporation’s policies.  The approach was “how do we help your system with our system?”

Data Collection and Evaluation

Georgia Built Their Own Data System to Manage QRIS

Georgia has a comprehensive online data system to manage all of the QRIS process from a child care program’s application to the QRIS, Quality Rated, to data collection and analysis including  program information; training and technical assistance from registration to tracking; portfolio submission including a continuous quality improvement (CQI) plan; incentives management; resources for families, programs, and technical assistance and training professionals; reports and data; and communication.  The system captures all information on a child care program and allows the program to track their progress through the process from application to rating.  The development of the system was guided by Georgia’s work with their researcher, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, who helped them develop a logic model, develop a validation and evaluation plan for their QRIS, create a data dictionary and create reports.  The system is used by Quality Rated staff, technical assistance and training staff, CCR&R agencies, programs enrolled in Quality Rated, incentive partners, the research team, and most importantly, by families seeking child care and resources. 

Cost Projections and Financing

Georgia Uses Provider Cost of Quality Calculator (PCQC) to Inform Their Plan for Tiered Reimbursement

The PCQC is an online tool used to determine the financial impact to child care programs when they increase their quality as measured in a QRIS.   Georgia used the calculator with a large selection of child care programs, including the large multi-site programs, who furnished financial data and participated in a large state level meeting to review the results of the PCOQ work.  They recommended that the state implement modest tiered reimbursement percentages that could be sustained over time and would not dramatically reduce the number of children who could receive subsidies.  Their recommendations were implemented on July 1, 2013 for Quality Rated programs, with programs receiving up to a 10% bonus for the highest level, three stars. The programs reported that they felt included, informed, and instrumental in the decision-making process which led to a smooth implementation of tiered reimbursement and fostered trusting relationships between the programs and the state.  Georgia plans to use the PCQC in the future as a part of the 40 hour director’s training and for owners prior to them becoming licensed. Directors of three-star programs will be trained on the tool so that they can use it to mentor directors in one-star programs.