Programs and Educators

Be a Part of Quality Connections

The first five years of life are critical to preparing children for success in school and in life–and early educators play a pivotal role in the life of children. The time children spend in early education programs are precious opportunities to help them feel safe and secure, form positive attachments, build friendships, and develop skills that will help them to solve problems and thrive. This requires programs of the highest caliber, made up of teachers and administrators with an unwavering love for children and deep knowledge and expertise in how they learn and develop.

San Francisco Quality Connections is committed to supporting early educators in achieving this goal. We invite all early education programs and providers in San Francisco–school district-operated early education schools, community-based and private centers, and family child care homes/educators–to join this collective effort to continuously improve their practice.

The Participant Experience

First 5 San Francisco believes that raising the quality of early education requires periodic self-reflection to identify a program’s strengths and areas for improvement. To facilitate this, we have adopted a system of quality rating and assessments.

  • Ratings are conducted by an independent, trained observer from First 5, using the methods specified by the statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
  • Assessments are conducted by independent, trained observers from WestEd, using the Environment Rating Scales (ECERS, ITERS, and FCCERS) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS-Pre-K, CLASS-Toddler, and CLASS-Infant)

Taken together, the outcomes of ratings and assessments are used to form a program’s rating score, measured on a scale of 1-5, and to inform and guide quality improvement efforts.

  • Once the rating and assessments have been completed, your early education program works with a coach to develop a quality improvement plan. Quality improvement plans are based on areas for improvement identified through the rating and assessment process, as well as aligned to your program’s values, personnel, curriculum, and education and family support goals.

Quality Connections then supports you to achieve the best possible outcomes by offering a wide array of opportunities for training and education, on-site coaching, and peer-to-peer learning–tailored to your needs and based on the most advanced knowledge and research on helping children to succeed.

Going Beyond Rating and Assessment

Rating and assessments provide educators and administrators with valuable, consistent, and objective information over time to plan and track the impact of training and professional development activities. They also give us a common measure with which to compare performance across the city or with state and national benchmarks. In San Francisco, we have implemented some form of quality rating and assessment of early education programs for nearly two decades, and we have always sought to pair these tools with support to programs to address identified needs.

These tools can provide an overall impression of early education program quality, but not a complete one. For example, none of the measurement tools we use in San Francisco adequately capture our commitments and investments in managing challenging behaviors, dual-language learning, science and inquiry, family engagement, inclusion for children with special needs, racial equity, and gender identity. Therefore, rating and assessment are only one component – albeit an important one – in the overall work of quality improvement.

Our Quality Improvement Approach

First 5 San Francisco believes that child- and educator-centric quality improvement efforts, boosted by City resources and expert assistance, will create better experiences for children and, in turn, raise educators’ quality in the areas measured by quality rating and assessment.

When you participate in the myriad of training and professional development opportunities offered by San Francisco Quality Connections, you are connected to a community of early education professionals all journeying together to perfect your craft and provide optimal experiences for all children. Our experience has demonstrated that quality scores improve when programs join the community that is Quality Connections. And, over time, the support you receive from caring partners and like-minded peers will add up to so much more than a score.

How to Join

All City-funded early care and education programs participate in quality rating and assessment as a condition of funding. First 5 and the Office of Early Care and Education will coordinate with all centers and family child care homes receiving Early Learning Scholarship or Preschool for All funding to schedule ratings and assessments at the appropriate times.

Programs that are not City-funded are welcome to participate and can get information on how by contacting Jennifer Martinez, QRIS Coordinator, at 415-554-9005 or

Training Calendar

Quality Connections offers over 100 days of trainings per year–all at no cost to early educators. Find and register for trainings using the calendar.

“[Quality Connections] helps our profession to be seen as a profession…. I’m really proud that San Francisco has this here.”

-Kim Garcia Meza, Family Child Care Provider, Las Mañanitas