District of Columbia Launches Early Learning Quality Improvement Network
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the Early Learning Quality Improvement Network (QIN) on March 23, 2015.
The Early Learning Network QIN, focuses the District’s efforts on providing high-quality early learning and health services for infants, toddlers, and families. It was the first step in a multi-year effort to build a neighborhood-based quality improvement system. The QIN designated three nonprofits, United Planning Organization, CentroNia, and Mary’s Center, as hubs to support home- and center-based child development providers across the city to increase access and enhance the quality of infant and toddler care. The three nonprofits partner with the city to improve child care facilities with more limited resources. The hubs assist providers in meeting Early Head Start standards and provide comprehensive services for children and families. Programs have access to mental health consultation, family engagement specialists, health and nutrition managers, and early intervention staff.
This neighborhood-based system benefits infants, toddlers, and providers. The QIN is expected to improve care for the 3,300 infants and toddlers currently receiving child care subsidies and add 1,000 new high-quality Early Head Start slots by 2020. Providers enjoy job-embedded professional learning and coaching, guaranteed full payment for a negotiated number of subsidy slots at the gold rate when the program maintains overall 85% monthly enrollment, assistance with recruitment to fill vacancies, support with transitioning children to pre-k, and priority in District degree and scholarship programs and financial incentives for teachers.
A midyear report analysis released in May 2016 found that the QIN improved collaboration throughout the broader early childhood education system. Partner agencies described the committee as a catalyst for developing greater inter-agency cooperation. Additionally, the report found that the QIN facilitated new linkages between center- and home-based child care partners, allowing expansion of agency programs impacting young children and families. A number of actionable recommendations to support and improve the QIN during its implementation phase were also identified. They focus on communication, governance, quality assurance, and sustainability.
The QIN is funded through a federal Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Child Care and Development Fund, and local resources. Total funding for the project is $2.7 million.
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