Palm Beach Children’s Services Council made a decision to better support early learning programs, children and families, so they created a program that recognizes program directors and family child care home operators as the leaders and change agents for their programs.
More than 10 years ago, the Children’s Services Council [CSC] of Palm Beach County created a Quality Rating and Improvement System [QRIS] with the ultimate goal of preparing children for kindergarten. At the time, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems were the nation’s newest approach to increasing quality in Early Care and Education programs and only a few states had adopted the model. Since the inception of QC, research has failed to deliver a relationship between increased star levels and school readiness. Given the extensive investment into the system, stakeholders were understandably concerned about the effectiveness of the Quality Counts system on child outcomes. The lack of consistent evidence to demonstrate progress toward producing positive outcomes for children raised questions about the validity of the QC design and its effectiveness on child outcomes.
Recognizing the situation, the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County worked with a national consultant to conduct a thorough needs assessment on the QC System. The assessment revealed that the QC system did not indicate a strong correlation between QC star ratings and the state-mandated child assessment for kindergarten readiness (the Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener [FLKRS]). In addition, the system faced various challenges such as the high cost of coaching and career advising, along with the high cost of financial incentives for centers and homes (i.e., mini-grants and quality enhancement payments). The data all pointed toward one solution— a new approach was needed.
Based on the learning and reviews from national studies, CSC decided to sunset the QC system and replace it with the Strong Minds Network. The mission of the Strong Minds Network is to use research and data to increase the quality of early care and education programs through integrated supports and resources offered to the early learning community, children and their families. The Strong Minds Network has a greater emphasis on achieving child outcomes through more effective teacher-child interactions. As suggested by relevant research, the Strong Minds Network directs resources to enhancing the validity of the early care network by targeting a few indicators with demonstrable links to positive child outcomes.
Visit the website for more information about Strong Mind’s QRIS framework.