Quality Rating Improvement System

In January 2012, the California Department of Education’s Child Development Division received a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. The grant calls for states to take a comprehensive, systemic approach to improving and rating the quality of child care, especially for children with high needs. Alameda County is one of 16 California counties engaged in the design of a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) with support from the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. Five Bay Area Counties have formed the Bay Area Quality Rating and Improvement Partnership (BAQRISP) to coordinate and align a regional approach to the QRIS.

This award allows us to coordinate quality improvement programs and strengthen partnerships in order to ensure effective and accountable use of limited resources. The process of building a QRIS ultimately will result in:

  • A shared definition of child care quality based on reliable and validated research
  • A comprehensive and consistent approach to assess quality
  • A design to evaluate the rating system and its impact
  • Access to an aligned system that supports quality improvement
  • A consistent way for providers to communicate to parents and caregiver about quality, and increased consumer awareness about—and demand for—high quality child care

On-Site Technical Assistance


First 5 Alameda's Quality Counts (QC) program is now part of the QRIS. QRIS sites may qualify for up two years of on-site coaching and consultation to help staff improve overall program quality. QRIS participants who fulfill program requirements and make overall improvements are eligible for quality grants that may be used for materials and/or staff training. Services are available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi/Urdu and Punjabi. Both Licensed Child Care Centers and Family Child Care (FCC) homes may apply to participate in QRIS.

What does this mean for Early Care and Education programs?


Licensed Centers and Family Child Care homes serving children with high needs (families with low incomes, infants, dual languages learners, children with special needs) may apply to participate in the QRIS. Each QRIS site will receive a free, comprehensive assessment of how their program practices compare to the California Race to the Top Quality Continuum Framework (see below). These assessments include observations to complete valid and reliable ERS and Class assessments. The assessments result in a preliminary rating used to inform a Quality Improvement Plan.

How will the QRIS help programs improve?


Some sites will qualifiy for on-site technical assistance (coaching/consultation). QRIS quality improvement coaches and consultants will work closely with directors, teachers, and family child care owner operators to develop a customized quality improvement plan based on program needs and informed by the site rating and then work with program leaders and classroom teams to support that plan. QRIS technical assistance staff will help link programs to a variety of professional development resources in addition to on-site coaching and consultation (see below). Because of resource limitations, some sites may be offered a "rating only." These sites will receive a free comprehensive assessment and rating to guide their quality improvement efforts and as a communication tool to describe their program to prospective parents/caregivers.




Participating sites receive a second assessment and rating after two years of quality improvement activities. A second assessment and rating will document changes in quailty and will be posted or published so that families looking for child care will understand where this program's practices align with the California Race to the Top Quality Continuum Framework.



The Quality Counts California Implementation Guide (June 2020) details how we implement QRIS in California. Inside you can find definitions of common terms as well as information and guidelines about rating, assessment, and observation.


This three-part training series is a must for anyone interested in the Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) and for staff from sites that have already been accepted to participate in QRIS. It covers all elements of the QRIS Matrix which is the framework for the QRIS program:

• QRIS Overview: Importance & QRIS Matrix
• Child Development and School Readiness
• California Foundations and Framework (DRDP, ASQ, ASQ-SE)
• Teachers and Teaching (CLASS, CSEFEL)
• Program and Environment (ERS, BAS, PAS)


Quality Counts- One-page descriptions of tools used in Quality Counts:


ASQ & ASQ:SE2- Spanish 

ASQ & ASQ:SE2- Chinese 

BAS- Chinese
CA Early Educator Competencies 
CA Early Educator Competencies- Spanish 
CA Early Educator Competencies- English 
CLASS- Spanish 
CLASS- Chinese 
CSEFEL- Chinese 
DRDP- Spanish 
DRDP- Chinese 
ERS- Spanish 
ERS- Chinese 
Foundations and Framework 
Foundations and Framework- Spanish 
Foundations and Framework- Chinese 
PARS- Spanish 
PARS- Chinese 
PAS- Chinese 
USDA- Spanish 
USDA- Chinese 

QRIS Training Series- Attachments:

Child Development Permit
ECE- Help Me Grow Screening
Final CQI Pathways
PDC Contact List
QRIS Health Screenings Tracking Form
Quality Counts CA Rating Matrix
Tools Document Landscape

Links to:

California Department of Education Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge 
Alameda County QRIS Fact Sheet
Alameda County RTT-ELC September 2012 Status Update
California Department of Education RTT-ELC Hybrid Quality Continuum Framework Draft
California Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Continuous Qualtiy Improvement Pathways


For more information, please contact:

Rowena Kamo: rowena.kamo@first5alameda.org