Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Section I. General Questions

What is Quality Counts?

Quality Counts is a voluntary quality improvement system that reviews early learning programs according to clearly defined, high quality standards and offers supports and incentives to help providers reach their goals.

Who can participate?

Any licensed early learning program that serves children under the age of five years in Miami-Dade County that has been operating for at least 1 year, does not have a probationary license, and meets the Early Learning Coalition Child Safety Licensing Policy is eligible to apply.

Do I have to have a contract with the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe for School Readiness or Voluntary Pre-kindergarten (VPK) to participate in Quality Counts?

No, all licensed programs who meet the eligibility criteria can participate (see “Who can participate?” above).

Will Quality Counts eventually be mandatory?

Quality Counts was designed as a voluntary system for Miami-Dade.

How do I get to the Quality Counts Portal?

Type www.portal.miamiqualitycounts.org into the address line on your internet web browser (some common ones are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari).

How do I sign up for Quality Counts?

To apply for Quality Counts, please visit the Quality Counts Portal at www.portal.miamiqualitycounts.org and create a login. Once you’ve created a login, you must complete the Quality Counts Overview Training. Then, the system will perform an eligibility check to determine whether your program meets the eligibility criteria (see “Who can participate?” above). If your program is eligible, you can complete an application.

What support will my program get if I participate in Quality Counts?

Your program may be eligible to receive on-site coaching and technical assistance to help you create and implement a quality improvement plan, career advising and scholarships to help staff complete credentials or degrees in early childhood. Your program may also be eligible to apply for support grants, which are financial supports to assist with your quality improvement work.

What is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a written document that outlines the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the Quality Counts process. It is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of your program as well as the Quality Counts partners and agree to these terms. You must sign this document in order to participate in Quality Counts.

Who are the Quality Counts partners?

Quality Counts is designed and funded by The Children’s Trust in partnership with the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. The Coalition oversees the implementation of Quality Counts with a team of community partners. Quality Counts partners include: Devereux Florida, Family Central Inc., Florida International University, United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, the Children’s Forum’s Quality Counts Career Center, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, Miami-Dade Community Action and Human Services Head Start/Early Head Start, Web-based Early Learning System, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, University of Miami Mailman Center and Citrus Health Network.

Who should I contact for more information?

Contact the Quality Counts team at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe at 305-646-7242 or email us at qualitycounts@elcmdm.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

Is there a minimum enrollment requirement for Family Child Care Homes to participate in Quality Counts?

Yes. Family Child Care Homes are required to maintain a minimum of three (3) children enrolled to participate in Quality Counts.

Section II. Self-Study

Will my program receive a Quality Counts rating?

Quality Counts reviewed the data from the first 31 programs rated under QC 2.0 and is utilizing this information to inform the continuous improvement of Quality Counts’ policies and procedures. Currently, Quality Counts programs are not receiving a rating. Once your program has been assessed by Devereux, you will receive on-site coaching and technical assistance and career advising services.

What does Quality Counts have to do with Child Care Licensing / Regulation?

Quality Counts builds upon the Florida Department of Children and Families Office of Child Care Regulation’s minimum standards to be a legally operating child care program. Quality Counts is a comprehensive system of support for quality improvement that creates high-quality programs through fostering a culture of continuous reflection and quality improvement.

What are the Quality Counts standards?

There are two elements of quality that will be measured in the Self-Study and assessment. They include:

  1. Staff Qualifications
  2. Learning Environment

What is the Quality Counts process?

  1. Providers view the Quality Counts Overview training in the Portal.
  2. The Portal conducts an automatic eligibility check to be sure that the program meets the 3 eligibility criteria (see “Who can participate?” above).
  3. Provider completes an application in the Quality Counts Portal.
  4. Provider submits all information and evidence for the Staff Qualification section of the Self-Study in the Quality Counts Portal.
  5. Provider submits all Classroom Roster information in the second section of the Self-Study in the Quality Counts Portal.
  6. Devereux conducts the Learning Environment assessment(s) in your program.
  7. Provider has access to Quality Counts supports and benefits, and continuous quality improvement work begins.
  8. Programs go through the renewal process every 18 months.

What is a Self-Study?

A Self-Study is a way to efficiently gather documentation and evidence that shows the level of quality a program is meeting in each standard. It allows you to compile information on staff qualifications and learning environment in your program to identify the level of quality already met, as well as the areas of particular need. Professional Development Registry verifies the documents in the Staff Qualifications section and Rating and Support Specialists verify the submission of your programs Classroom Roster. All information and evidence must be submitted through the Quality Counts Portal.

What is the Professional Development Registry?

The Professional Development Registry (PDR) is an extensive database of information about the early childhood workforce in Miami-Dade County. Staff qualification documentation for all teaching staff and directors in programs participating in Quality Counts is securely maintained in the Professional Development Registry. Individuals can access transcripts of their training and educational history from the Registry through their Quality Counts Career Advisors, and use this information for career development planning.

  1. Do I need to submit my hourly wage?
    • Yes. This information is required to have a description of our early learning workforce. However, the name of the practitioner and place of employment is kept confidential.
  2. Do I need to include a complete Social Security number?
    • A full Social Security Number must be supplied in order to uniquely match the participant with their state licensing records, training records, etc. Security of personally identifiable information is taken very seriously.  All connections to the portal are secured and encrypted. Social Security Numbers are NEVER transmitted across the internet or entered into the website, nor are they stored in the website database.
  3. Do I need to include all staff in the Registry?
    • Yes. All the teaching staff providing direct care to children for 20 hours or more per week and program Directors, needs to be included in the Registry regardless of their credentials.

What is an assessment?

The assessments used in the Learning Environment standard are valid and reliable observations of the children, teachers, activities, and the classroom environment. They measure the quality of interactions between teachers and children, and the quality of the classroom learning environment. Each assessment used in Quality Counts has been developed by national experts in early childhood, and has been researched extensively. Both the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) are widely used measures of the quality of early care and education. The Learning Environment level is determined by assessment scores of classrooms in the program, not by information provided in the Self-Study.

If my center serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers, will these classrooms be evaluated separately?

Yes. Infant/toddler classrooms will be assessed using the ITERS-R and preschool classrooms will be assessed using the CLASS Pre-K and the ECERS-R Provisions for Learning factor. One of every three preschool classrooms will be assessed (one-third), and one of every three infant/toddler classrooms will be assessed (one-third). The classrooms will be selected randomly.

What is a Health and Safety checklist?

The Health and Safety checklist is conducted by the assessment team on the same day your program is assessed. The checklist is used to monitor and identify hazards in indoor and outdoor environments accessible to children.

What is Devereux?

Devereux Florida is a non-profit that is contracted by the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe to assess early childhood learning environments for Quality Counts. The Devereux Team consists of eight (8) assessors who have backgrounds in Early Childhood Education and are Author trained, certified, and reliable on all assessment tools used. The team’s manager has a doctorate degree in Special Services for Exceptional Children.

What should the staff and children expect during an observation?

It is recommended that the Director let staff and children know that visitors will be coming to document all the wonderful things they observe and to identify ways to help enhance the services that are being provided. It is critical that you advise all your staff of the timeframe for Devereux’s visit and inform them that the assessors are not allowed to engage in conversation during the formal assessment or in any way interact with the children or staff. They have been trained to be as unobtrusive as possible in order to get a valid picture of your program. Encourage your staff to view it as a regular day and to behave as they normally would. This will ensure that the children follow their normal routine. Devereux is aware that their presence may alter child behavior, which will not affect the scoring. After the observation, the assessor will have a few interview questions for the teacher.

How are the Staff Qualification and Learning Environment levels determined?

First, programs complete a Self-Study. The Self-Study allows you to compile information on staff qualifications in your program. The Professional Development Registry verifies the documents in the Staff Qualifications section, and Rating and Support Specialists verify your program’s Classroom Roster is submitted. Assessments are then completed by reliable assessors using the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) on a random sample of classrooms. The results of the formal assessment and verification of the Self-Study are used to determine a program’s needs.

What happens if I disagree with the assessment scores?

There is a formal clarification process. Contact the Quality Counts team at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe for details on the process by email, qualitycounts@elcmdm.org or by phone, 305-646-7242.

What happens after a program completes the Self-Study?

Once a program submits their Self-Study, a Quality Improvement Specialist and Career Advisor schedule appointments to review the program’s Learning Environment and Staff Qualifications Level. These professionals help support and guide the program in creating a Quality Improvement Plan and a Career Development Plan in order to accomplish continuous quality improvement goals. Once the Quality Improvement Plan is completed, programs currently providing services to children receiving a subsidy from the School Readiness program are eligible to apply for a Support Grant.

What is a Support Grant?

Support Grants will be used to purchase equipment or materials to address individual programmatic needs. Only programs providing services to children receiving a subsidy from the School Readiness program and are engaging in continuous quality improvement are eligible. Support Grants will first address health and safety concerns, then program improvements and lastly administrative supports depending on the dollar amount a program is eligible to receive.

Section III. Improvement

What is on-site coaching and technical assistance?

These services are provided to support programs in all areas of Quality Counts, including, but not limited to: supporting developmentally appropriate learning environments, supporting curriculum, family support, and inclusion practices, and assistance earning a Gold Seal accreditation. A Quality Improvement Specialist provides quality improvement support and guidance to the director and teaching staff in a program.

What is a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP)?

The Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) is created once a program has been assessed. It outlines the goals, action plans and resources needed to ensure continuous quality improvement. The QIP is created with assistance from the Quality Improvement Specialist. It is updated on a regular basis to ensure tasks and goals are met in a timely manner.

What is career advising?

Career Advising services are provided to support programs in all areas of professional development, including, but not limited to: supporting the career development of teaching staff, providing educational scholarships for non-credit/CEU trainings, college credit courses or credentials such as CDA, as well as WAGE$, a financial award for staff based on education and job stability.

What is a Career Development Plan?

The Career Advisor assists each eligible practitioner explore professional development opportunities leading to improvement and upward mobility in the Miami-Dade Quality Counts Early Learning Career Pathway. Based on current educational levels, needs, and expectations, a Career Development Plan is created, identifying the goals a practitioner wants to achieve and the courses or trainings necessary to reach each goal.

How do I sign up to participate in the WAGE$ program?

Practitioners must complete the Child Care WAGE$ application and provide verification of: (1) current employment (2) current salary, and (3) educational credentials. Applicants must meet Miami-Dade Quality Counts WAGE$ program criteria. Please ask your Career Advisor for a copy of the eligibility criteria and supplement scale.

How can my teachers increase the amount of money received through Child Care WAGE$ if they do not speak English?

Practitioners participating in the Child Care WAGE$ Program may increase their supplement award amounts by successfully completing additional education. The QCCC developed special Bilingual ECE Credit Programs at Miami Dade College, Florida International University and NOVA Southeastern University to meet the professional development needs of Spanish-speaking practitioners.

If a practitioner currently holds a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree, will Quality Counts provide scholarships to that individual to pursue advanced degrees?

Educational scholarships are prioritized for individuals who do not yet have a Bachelor’s degree. Quality Counts does not have the funds to provide scholarships for graduate degrees, nor has it in the past.

What type of trainings does the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education offer?

The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education’s Community Wide Training

Services, funded by the Early Learning Coalition, offers trainings that facilitate effective implementation and enhancement of quality improvement in early care and education. Services build upon and develop the knowledge and skills of early care and education practitioners to continuously improve practice. The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education offers trainings in areas related to our Quality Counts standards and accreditation. Trainings through United Way are provided for your convenience at over 25 locations throughout Miami-Dade County.

Do I have to pay for trainings offered through the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education?

No. All trainings offered through the United Way that are funded by Quality Counts are free of charge.

Where can I register for training offerings from the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education?

You can access the United Way training calendar at   http://www.qccareers.org/calendar.php. If you need assistance or have any questions, contact the United Way Center for Excellence at (305)-631-7616 or (305)-631-7615.

What is Outcomes Driven Training (ODT)?

The ODT design intentionally moves participants from training participation to workplace implementation. The majority of trainings offered by United Way, funded by Quality Counts, are in ODT format. When you attend an ODT training, remember that completion of the Implementation Plan is a requirement in order to receive CEUs. You           will receive additional CEUs for the time it takes to complete your Implementation Plan.

Do I get CEUs when I attend trainings offered through the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education?

CEUs are awarded for all trainings offered through United Way funded by Quality Counts. Please note that participation in all sessions in multi-session United Way trainings is required to receive CEU credits (in addition to completion of ODT requirements as applicable).

What do I need to do to continue being a part of Quality Counts?

Programs are required to develop a Quality Improvement Plan every 18 months to receive the supports and benefits that Quality Counts offers. Programs must also continue to meet the 3 eligibility criteria (see “Who can participate?” above).

I would like to get the Gold Seal certification. Can Quality Counts help my program get accredited?

Yes. Quality Counts will assist providers in quality improvement work related to achieving a Gold Seal accreditation. First time Quality Counts participants can receive this support after completing the Self-Study. Your Quality Improvement Specialist can work with you to include achieving accreditation as part of your Quality Improvement Plan.

ls there be additional training offered on CLASS (beyond the Introduction to CLASS Pre-K)?

Yes, online trainings, Making the Most of Classroom Interactions, and are offered throughout the year.

What is Shared Resources Florida?

Shared Resources is a free membership-based website that offers an array of resources and tools for program directors, owners and teachers to enhance the business and educational environment of centers and family child care homes. This platform consists of cost savings programs; free templates/forms; posters; links to State (DCF) and Federal regulations; free online trainings for teachers; parents handouts; and much more.

Section IV. QC 2.0

Will my program receive assistance from a Quality Improvement Specialist and Career Advisor?

Yes, quality improvement specialists and career advising is offered to all programs participating in Quality Counts.

Since some training agencies only offer in-service hours, how can practitioners meet the CEU requirements at each level of quality?

Due to the changes in Quality Counts training requirements, we have been working with our many community partners to restructure their training and courses in order to offer more CEU trainings.

Can I skip the renewal process?

No, programs in Quality Counts are required to go through the renewal process every 18 months.

Will Quality Counts offer training for different curricula? If so, what areas will be covered?

Yes, the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education regularly offers training in several different ELC-approved curricula, such as Creative Curriculum, High Scope, Beyond Centers and Circle Time, and WEE Learn. In addition, the QCCC provides scholarships toward Curriculum training throughout the community various.

I have been taking trainings for in-service hours during the past 18 months, will I be given credit for those hours in the Training section of the Staff Qualifications?

As of June 1, 2014, only CEUs will factor into Staff Qualifications levels.

How can a provider determine their training date range (“selection period”) in advance in order to be sure to meet the required amount of CEUs for their next renewal?

The selection period is automatically determined by the system as the 18 months prior to beginning the process, and usually will be 18 months after your last renewal. For example, if your last renewal occurred on January 1, 2013, then your 18-month renewal period would be 1/1/13 – 7/1/14. In certain circumstances, however, the selection period may not exactly reflect the 18 months between renewals.