Announcing DC's New Quality Improvement Network
I am a huge fan of Early Head Start! I’ve written about it here and here. There is no dispute for me that Early Head Start is one of the most important social and educational investments in children, families and communities that we have ever undertaken. Early Head Start has continually improved the services it delivers to children and families and addresses the ever changing needs of local communities. Some might even argue that this (and Head Start) is the only successful anti-poverty program that can actually improve outcomes for the very poor children attending preschool and PreK.
So imagine my excitement when DC was one of the states selected for the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grants! This week, Mayor Bowser announced her commitment to strengthen early childhood education programs, more specifically a partnership with the newly designated Quality Improvement Network (QIN) hubs to improve the quality of center- and home- based providers serving infants and toddlers. The QIN uses the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grants to develop community-based providers as resource and training hubs with the goal of advancing services and support for children, family and providers. In DC, they will be UPO, Mary’s Center and CentroNia. Simply amazing!
This concept of blending Early Head Start and Child Care funding and resources isn’t a new concept. Over a decade ago there was The QUILT Project. From an economic perspective, this method can have a tremendous financial impact on child care centers and family child care partners, BUT there will be some tradeoffs for the providers in this network.
On the positive side – programs that are part of the QIN will receive quality improvement supports for professional development and the comprehensive services provided through Early Head Start. On the flip side, child care providers who participate in the partnership may now need to reduce their class size to meet Early Head Start standards and, as a consequence, could potentially lose some revenue. It’s too soon to say how this will help or hurt the partners from a business perspective, BUT this is the first time in quite a while that we are pushing policies to improve “quality” as a city.