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THE EXPECT MORE TOUR OF EXCELLENCE: NEW STUDY SHOWS QUALITY FIRST PROGRAM HELPS IMPROVE EARLY LEARNING SETTINGS


November 20, 2017
Angela Mussi
AZ Ed News

Research shows quality child care and preschool settings help children develop skills like motivation, self-control, focus and self-esteem that are crucial to their success once they enter school.

Through the Quality First program, First Things First partners with child care providers and preschools in Arizona to improve the quality of early learning for children birth to age 5. These learning environments nurture the emotional, social, language and cognitive development of young children.

Improving the quality of early learning settings – including offering scholarships so that more young children can access quality child care and preschool – is the single largest investment at First Things First (almost 50 percent of spending in fiscal year 2017).  The voluntary program currently serves about 1,000 child care and preschool programs – roughly one-third of the licensed or certified early learning sites in Arizona.

Programs participating in Quality First receive coaching, assessments, professional development, and incentives. After about two years in the program, each of the participating early learning sites is rated on a scale of 1-5 stars. These ratings are published at QualityFirstAZ.com, along with other tools that help families find quality child care that meets their needs.

The first phase of a study to ensure that Quality First is improving childhood outcomes was recently conducted. The study found that providers who participate in Quality First programs tend to improve in their quality levels between assessments.