Quality Early Learning

Ensure children have access to quality early learning experiences and environments.

Research studying long-term outcomes finds that children from low-income families who attend quality preschool are more likely than their peers who did not attend preschool or who attended low quality preschool to have, as adults, higher educational attainment and income, lower involvement with drugs or the criminal justice system, and better mental and physical health. When looking at cost-benefits, quality early childhood education (ECE) programs for low-income children ages 0-5 have been documented to produce a substantial return on investment. We will measure progress on this goal area by focusing on kindergarten readiness, ECE program quality, and early care availability.

Quality Early Learning 1: Increase the percentage of children ready for kindergarten in focus communities.

To be measured by: Percentage of children ready for kindergarten in lowest performing neighborhoods, as measured by neighborhood-level EDI sub-scores and overall scores.

Value of measure:  Kindergarten readiness is correlated with short- and long-term health, education, and economic outcomes. The Early Development Index (EDI) is a survey tool that kindergarten teachers complete on each student in their class. The results reveal at the neighborhood level what proportion of children were ready for kindergarten in five developmental areas and 16 sub-areas. The EDI is a powerful tool for engaging with communities and collaboratively identifying place-based strategies to improve readiness.

Quality Early Learning 2: Increase Early Childhood Education programs participating in quality assistance programs.

To be measured by: Percentage of early care and education programs participating in Quality Start OC.

Value of measure:  Research finds that children from low-income families who attend quality preschool are more likely than their peers who did not attend preschool or who attended low quality preschool to have higher educational attainment and income, lower involvement with drugs or the criminal justice system, and better mental and physical health. Increasing quality among existing programs through participation in quality assistance programs can have lasting impact on children’s long-term potential.

Quality Early Learning 3: Increase alignment of child care supply and demand.

To be measured by:

  • Change in gap between the number of income eligible infants and toddlers, and the number of subsidized family child care home and center-based slots for infants and toddlers according to Orange County Child Care and Development Planning Council data.
  • Change in gap between the number of income eligible preschool age children, and the number of subsidized family child care home and center-based slots for preschool age children according to Orange County Child Care and Development Planning Council data.

Value of measure:  The high cost of child care can press working families to choose care that they would not otherwise, including care that may be of lower quality. Increasing the availability of low-cost or subsidized care provides more, and potentially higher-quality, options for families.