Here are the answers to some of our most asked questions. If you don’t see the answer to your question below, please contact us.

What is SDQPI?

SDQPI is a systemic approach to assessing, improving and communicating the level of quality in early care and education programs. We do this through our Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), which rates seven elements of quality, giving each participating program a tier rating (1-5). This system helps improve the quality of participating programs so they are better prepared to help all children grow socially, emotionally, and physically in a healthy environment, with knowledgeable and caring providers who engage children in a range of enriching activities.

What is rated by SDQPI?

  • Child Observation
    • Highly skilled teachers use child observation to identify child strengths and opportunities for growth, and tailor their lesson planning to the unique needs of every child
  • Developmental and Health Screenings
    • Screenings for developmental, health and emotional needs help support appropriate growth and development for children
  • Qualified Teachers
    • Qualified teachers are critical to the learning and development for the young children in their care
  • Effective Teacher-Child Interactions
    • High quality teacher-child interactions not only help children establish healthy relationships, but they also lead to overall school readiness and increased academic success
  • Adult-to-Child Ratios and Group Sizes
    • The number of children enrolled in a particular learning environment should be limited so that students can create friendships, receive attention from the adults in the room, and have adequate materials to learn with and share
  • Safe and Engaging Program Environment
    • Environments that have adequate learning supplies and toys also engage young children to use their creativity and experience to learn new concepts develop their minds, bodies, and friendships to become better prepared for kindergarten and life
  • Qualified Early Learning Center Directors
    • Early care and education programs require targeted education and professional development for their leaders

Can you tell me more about what the ratings mean?

  • Regardless of their rating, all providers and educators are committed to quality and already have an expressed stake in quality improvement.
  • Ratings do not equate to letter grades that you would normally find in a report card. A QRIS rating is a comprehensive assessment that is based upon multiple elements.
  • Each element of QRIS’s comprehensive assessment is considered when the rating for participating programs is ultimately calculated. The rating serves to give insight into the early learning program’s level of quality and commitment to continually improve quality.
  • In addition, many factors influence a family’s choice in choosing an early care and education program for their child beyond a number rating. Every child is different and every family has unique needs. Families who do consider the quality rating of a particular program may choose to focus on certain elements over others, depending on what is most important for them.

Are there other things to look for in quality early education and care programs?

In addition to the rated items, parents should also keep in mind these additional considerations when choosing an early care and education program to best support the needs of their family:

  • Culturally Appropriate Family Engagement
    • Quality programs promote culturally appropriate family engagement and parent education so that families can effectively provide learning and development experiences at home. In addition, high quality programs invest in family strengthening by supporting parent resilience, knowledge of parenting and child development, social and emotional competence of children, social connections among parents, and concrete support in times of need.
  • Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum Based on Recognized Early Education and Care Standards
    • It is important that curricula are research-based, developmentally appropriate, inquiry-based, comprehensive in subject matter, and responsive and sensitive to cultural and linguistic needs of families.
  • Support for Dual Language Learners
    • High quality programs honor and understand the value of each family’s culture and the development and maintenance of both (or more) languages. High quality providers know how to help families and children foster their cultural and linguistic strengths and promote the development of both languages while preparing children for success in kindergarten.
  • Practices that Promote Social-Emotional Development of Children
    • High quality programs invest in developing strong social-emotional competence in children and implement strategies that help children strengthen social-emotional skills. Many early education and care programs focus on building an effective teaching staff who are engaged in nurturing and responsive relationships, and who can teach young children friendship-making and problem-solving skills as well as how to use emotion words to support the prevention of challenging behavior and increase their ability to control their impulses (self-regulation).
  • Attention to Nutrition and Physical Activity
    • Healthy feeding practices and nutritious meals and snacks are an important part of developing healthy eaters into adulthood. In addition, high quality infant care programs implement policies and practices that enable moms to continue breastfeeding their children by having systems to store and provide breast milk for the babies in their care.

How do I find an early education and care provider?

San Diego County offers a variety of program settings from which parents can choose an early care and education provider best suited to their child and unique situation. These settings include: center-based programs subsidized by the California Department of Education or Head Start; school district-based programs; college-based centers; for-profit, faith-based or non-profit centers; and family child care homes. Any of these setting may serve children from infancy through preschool.

To find a preschool, infant/toddler center, or family child care home that is participating in SDQPI visit our Program Finder.

Families can also call the YMCA Childcare Resource Service to determine which programs might meet their needs and can look for quality elements when visiting early learning settings to find the right match. Please call 619-521-3070 or 1-800-481-2151 to speak with a child care consultant or visit the Resource and Referral website.