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 Building Early Education Expertise

Members of the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) Early Education team shared their expertise -- and brought some home -- thanks to the opportunity to attend and present at the 2017 Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) National Meeting, hosted by BUILD Initiative and the QRIS National Learning Network.

The national conference provided a chance to engage with state leaders to expand the conversation for ongoing improvement in Early Education programs and systems nationwide, said Juan Carlos Torres, program specialist for early education data and accountability. The five-member SDCOE contingent in attendance led several conference presentations, showcasing San Diego's QRIS efforts by highlighting its important work in data collection and analysis, family and community engagement practices, and utilizing research-based strategies to build capacity in coaches and workforce members.

"We shared the SDCOE Early Education team's strategies and methods for overcoming a wide variety of challenges that have presented themselves in raising the quality in preschools," Torres said. "The decades-long work of the Early Education unit provided a 'roadmap' of action plans and best practices that other states' leaders, who are just embarking on the QRIS movement, were able to benefit from."

Team SDCOE also participated in several conference breakout sessions, learning about the various approaches that drive continuous quality improvement through the implementation of a structured process that ensures effective outcomes.

Torres was joined by SDCOE colleagues Nancy Baum, program specialist for early education data and accountability; Dr. Evette Callahan, coordinator for early education; Jena Kubiak, coordinator for early education; and Eunice Munro, program specialist for early education.

"The convening of leaders from across the nation to peer-share and learn with the idea that by working together we can assure that high-quality early learning opportunities are available for all children was a very valuable experience," said Callahan, who presented on Families and QRIS Standards with Julia Abercrombie of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Kim Engelman of Child Care Aware of America, and Manica Ramos of Child Trends.

The annual national meeting -- whose theme this year was Meeting Expanding Reach, Enhancing Impact, Advancing Equity -- held in June in Dallas, is designed to share the latest research, effective practices, innovations, and big ideas in the development, implementation and revision of quality rating and improvement systems, while also fostering cross-state discussion and peer exchange.