"All a parent should have to do is choose the care location that is closest to home. Quality should be standard."

- Sean Casey, Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa

"Are we pushing the right things? Would licensing and credentialing be better places to push to achieve quality?"

- Janis Burger, Executive Director, First 5 Alameda County

"My colleagues are strong willed, compassionate, optimistic. They have been great mentors for me personally and professionally. I respect their experience and I put effort into being a good partner and also having my own voice."

- Kitty Lopez, Executive Director, First 5 San Mateo County


California needs to invest in our youngest children. Quality early learning is a critical piece of early childhood development that has been shown to have long-term benefits–research shows that children with exposure to quality early learning experiences are more prepared for school, are more likely to graduate, are less likely to commit crime, and are better equipped to succeed in college and their careers. In short, investing in our youngest children is investing in our future. 

The Partnership's Reach

Total Sites Rated

Total Sites Rated

Total Children Served

Total Children Served


A quality rating and improvement system is a vehicle to organize early learning quality standards. QRIS intended to measure and raise the level of quality of early learning programs by developing quality standards, providing quality improvement supports, and aligning disconnected systems. In 2011, California was awarded a 4-year, $75 million Federal Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge (RTT) grant to develop regional QRIS in 16 counties across California.

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Instead of developing individual QRIS efforts, six First 5 County Commissions in the Bay Area–First 5 Alameda County, First 5 Contra Costa, First 5 San Francisco, First 5 San Mateo County, First 5 Santa Clara County, and First 5 Santa Cruz County–decided to align efforts and create the Bay Area Quality Early Learning Partnership to pilot a regional QRIS approach. Building on strong existing relationships, these six counties elected to collaborate on their QRIS implementation efforts and agreed on four shared goals:

Establish a common definition of quality

Ensure that QRIS ratings are consistent across the Bay Area

Increase their operational efficiency

Learn from each other’s experience

“The Bay Region work has informed considerable components of the QRIS work statewide. We drew on their collaborative model to help design aspects of First 5 IMPACT and the concept of the Regional QRIS T&TA Hubs.” -Camille Maben, Executive Director, First 5 California

In December of 2015, the Partnership released a report titled Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge: Achievements and Lessons Learned From Regional QRIS Implementation, providing a summation of the Partnership’s work, its lessons learned, and the vision for moving forward.

Read the Report