Strategy: Quality Early Care & Education
Why This Matters:
High quality early childhood programs support early learning experiences that are critical for children birth to five. Components of quality care include (but are not limited to) highly skilled and educated teachers, a safe and healthy physical environment, positive teacher-child interactions, small class size and ratios, and developmentally appropriate curriculum. When all components are in place, these programs can make a big difference to a child. Several long-term studies have demonstrated that children in quality early childhood programs score higher on reading and math tests and are more likely to complete high school and go on to college. These children are also less likely to repeat a grade. In contrast, children in poor-quality early childhood programs have been found to be delayed in language and reading skills – which are critical to later school success.
Unfortunately many children with the highest needs (from low-income households, in Foster Care settings, with special needs, etc.) that could benefit most from high quality programs are served in early care and education settings that need improvement. By building a comprehensive approach to improving the quality of child care programs, our goal is to help all children in Alameda County reach their learning potential.
What We Are Doing:
The Quality Child Care Strategy is developing an integrated quality improvement and rating system which includes funding, technical assistance and coaching and consultation for early care and education (ECE) sites in Alameda County. Our work includes grants to ECE sites for classroom improvements and incentives for individual teacher training. In addition, we are coordinating quality improvement programs and strengthening community partnerships in order to ensure effective and accountable use of limited resources. Through these combined efforts, we hope increase the quality of ECE sites to better support children with high needs in our county.