How Can the QIN Impact Quality in Early Care and Education?

QIN Impact Quality

I wrote about the launch of the Quality Improvement Network (QIN) in the spring of 2015. It is the District’s first step toward a multi-year effort to build neighborhood-based quality improvement systems for early care and education providers in the District.

One year later, what have we learned? What makes the QIN innovative and worth continued investment in? Can it help improve quality in programs?

As a former PreK teacher’s aid, my experience aligns with what leading experts assert: that children should be safe and able to play freely and engage in hands-on activities in classrooms that are stocked with developmentally appropriate books and materials. Like home visitors and family support workers, teachers and caretakers should interact meaningfully with those children, working to deepen children’s knowledge through play and conversation.

In my almost 10 years of experience in the District, I have not seen an approach to improving quality among programs that is as comprehensive as the QIN. The QIN’s scope is also impressive: it seeks to improve quality among traditional classrooms and small home-based providers alike. I am definitely excited to see what is possible.

DC Action has the pleasure of serving as the systems-level evaluators of the QIN, taking a deep dive into how relationships, policy and practice are functioning as the QIN seeks to improve quality in programs District-wide. We are thrilled to be able to bring this unique level of evaluation and applaud leaders at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) for inviting us to partner in this way.

To date, here’s a high-level look at what we’ve learned:

As a result of the QIN, early care and education centers and home-based programs are implementing a community-based quality improvement system aligned with the comprehensive quality standards of Early Head Start (EHS). These new standards would impact the 3,300 children in the current child care subsidy programs who are eligible to meet EHS standards. These standards are the highest in the nation, surpassing licensing and accredited programs.

One of the primary forces behind the QIN is the aspiration to capitalize on the strengths of anchor programs – the Hub partner agencies – in order to create the infrastructure needed to support continuous professional development and technical assistance for the community partners (both center and home-based). Hub partners support the child care partners by equipping them with the tools needed to be successful in meeting the EHS evidence-based standards.

As part of DC Action’s commitment to the success of the QIN, we’ve partnered with The Build Initiative and the Division of Early Learning at OSSE to serve as the systems evaluators of the QIN. I personally look forward to sharing progress, challenges and successes as we keep an eye on the QIN’s impact on children and families.