Before joining the Center on Early Learning at Teaching Research Institute (TRI), I had the pleasure of coordinating the Focused Family Child Care Network (FFCCN) in Yamhill County with Child Care Resource and Referral. Focused Networks were designed to support Child Care providers and programs through the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) while offering the opportunity for provider networking. Child Care Resource and Referral, in partnership with the Yamhill County Early Learning Hub, recruited and has been supporting 20 Family Child Care providers through the QRIS process.
The Focused Network participants were able to receive QRIS support funds and incentives for agreeing to participate in the QRIS and the Focused Network. These 20 Child Care providers have walked through the QRIS together from the application process to receiving support funds to attending continued professional development trainings and have supported one another through program implementation of polices and procedures.
One exciting result of coordinating the Focused Network was having the ability to listen to providers’ needs and create opportunities to show how practical it is to put the QRIS into practice. By listening to providers’ questions about how they were going to implement the quality changes they indicated in their Quality Improvement Plans, we collectively agreed to organize a QRIS support funds shopping trip at our local Lakeshore Learning store through a partnership with the Child Care Resource and Referral. Providers were given one-on-one customer service to assist in each provider’s individual needs, additional discounts on the supplies they purchased, and were able to visit during special hours of operation. Lakeshore was an incredible partner for this event, and it allowed for the Focused Network providers to network about their Child Care programs outside of trainings while working towards quality improvements. Having an opportunity to develop their programs with the support funds was a fantastic way for providers to enhance the materials in their programs or purchase things which have long been on their “wish list” of items.
Focused Networks have been able to give these Family Child Care providers an opportunity to collaborate with other providers and work on continuous quality improvement while working alongside a Quality Improvement Specialist (QIS) and participating in events supporting their QRIS journey. Yamhill County Focused Network providers are working diligently to turn in their QRIS portfolios by June 2015.