Policy Resource

Louisiana's Bridge to Quality Initiative

Feb 9, 2016

With support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Child Care Rebuild Collaborative in Louisiana piloted Bridge to Quality, an initiative to help early care and education centers improve their quality of care and business practices.

While Louisiana’s quality rating and improvement system, Quality Start, provides financial incentives for participating programs that earn at least two stars on the quality rating scale, support to help programs reach that level is limited. Using an intensive coaching model, as well as financial support, Bridge to Quality aimed to assist centers in reaching at least three stars on the rating scale by the pilots end. The program was developed by Nancy Freeman and Jo Ann Clarey and was piloted in 2009 and 2010 as a program managed by the Institute for Mental Hygiene. The pilot was guided by a steering committee consisting of representatives from the State Department of Social Services Division of Early Child Care and Education, Office of Family Support (which administers Quality Start), the local child care resource & referral agency, the local United Way, and a number of local early care and education advocates.

Throughout its run, the Bridge to Quality pilot worked with 7 centers in the New Orleans area representing a range of sizes and quality levels. According to the August 2010 Impact Statement, a major criterion for participation in the program was the number of subsidized and low-income children served. Bridge to Quality provided each program with funding equivalent to what a program would receive through Quality Start when they earn three stars. This funding could be used to purchase furniture, materials and supplies, as well as for professional development and benefits for staff. Bridge to Quality also provided intensive coaching to each center, both on ways to improve quality of care for the children, as well as on business planning and data management. The pilot was evaluated and initial data indicates that it was successful. All participating programs moved up in their quality ratings, and their scores on the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS) increased by a statistically significant margin. According to the August 2010 Impact Statement, 87% classroom staff had earned their Child Development Certificate since the program’s launch, making them eligible to receive the annual School Readiness Tax Credit.

While funding for the pilot ran through December 2010, staff looked to continue to expand the program to support other early care and education programs in achieving higher levels of quality. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Bridge to Quality is being continued in New Orleans. Since 2011, the program has been administered by the Agenda for Children, the local resource and referral agency, with efforts made to expand the program to outlying parishes. This move has allowed the Bridge coaches and Agenda for Children’s CCR&R coaches and training staff to work together more closely and share best practices in coaching and program improvement.


For more information on Quality Start visit http://www.qrslouisiana.org/

Updated January 2016.

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