Quality Improvement

Children play outside with child care professional
Why Quality?

Quality is important because early experiences last a lifetime. 
The research is clear: High –quality early care and education programs can help prepare children for success in school, work and life.

With only 1,892 days until a child enters kindergarten, we want children to have responsive and respectful care that will help them be ready for school and life. 

Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies have developed several documents to assist Child Care Programs with quality improvement.  View them on our Resource page.


Step Up to Quality (SUTQ) Updates!

Step Up-Update:

Technical Assistance available by appointment, Call Child Care Connection and ask for a Quality Enhancement Specialist.




Early Learning Assessment - REVISED Timeline
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) recently introduced Ohio's new Early Learning Assessment (ELA).

Letter to Centers

Centers received a letter from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services about the ELA and the ELA webinar.  The letter was sent on March 5, 2015. Click HERE for a copy for the letter.

Timeline Changed

The timeline for implementation of the Ohio's Early Learning Assessment has changed. All programs that are 3, 4, and 5 star rated will be required to use the ELA starting in Fall 2016.

There will be a specific page for ELA information available from the SUTQ page on the Early Childhood Ohio website.

Check the Early Childhood Ohio website frequently for updates about the ELA. Call Child Care Connection with your questions.

Training for the ELA

Training on the use of the ELA and full version of the system, including the Ready for Kindergarten Online System, will begin Spring 2016. Child Care Connection will help provide the training.


ODJFS Licensed Programs and Family Child Care Homes:

Child Care Connection is your…

  • state funded early childhood resource and referral agency.
  • official resource for Step Up To Quality information, training, technical assistance and on-site coaching. 

    For a list of Who to Call? with questions related to Step Up To Quality, click HERE.

Call Child Care Connection for additional questions about SUTQ. 1-800-407-4537.

Early Childhood Ohio Website

New resources and materials are  available on the  Early Childhood Ohio website.

The  Early Childhood Ohio website is the location for all updated Step Up To Quality materials moving forward.

Click the direct link for Step Up To Quality information:


National Quality Improvement Programs

Accreditation is a way to judge the quality of a child care program. Family child care homes and child care centers can choose to get accredited by a child care accrediting organization. But, they have to meet higher standards than licensing rules. The program must offer the kind of care, attention, and educational activities parents look for in quality child care programs. It must offer activities and experiences that will aid in a child's growth and development, and that will help them prepare for school.

Any type of child care program can get accredited. Child care centers, family child care homes, and after school programs all have different organizations that conduct the accreditation process. Below is a list of some accrediting organizations.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation

Since 1985, NAEYC's national, voluntary accreditation system has set professional standards for early childhood education programs, and helped families identify high-quality programs for their young children.

National Association of Family Child Care Accreditation

NAFCC sponsors the only nationally recognized accreditation system designed specifically for family child care providers. This system was designed by hundreds of providers, parents, and early care and education experts in an effort to create a quality indicator for family child care programs across the country.

NAFCC Accreditation is recognized as the highest indicator that a family child care program is a quality environment. In states where Quality Rating Systems have been implemented, NAFCC Accreditation is often the "top" level in the rating system.

H.A.P.P.Y. Homes Family Daycare Association located in Trumbull County is the official state affiliate for NAFCC!!  Visit their website.


Council on Accreditation

Council on Accreditation for Afterschool Programs has developed a set of standards that are based on generally-accepted elements of best practice, outcomes-oriented, effective in advancing quality, and responsive to the unique needs and diversity of after school programs.  These standards represent a set of practices that support quality programming and promote positive outcomes for children and youth.  These standards are grounded in a long-standing, widely held belief that children, youth, and families benefit when a program enhances its capacity to achieve its mission and validate its impact. COA also embraces the idea that the positive effects of implementing national standards multiply when programs become part of a community that shares and supports this perspective.

How to measure Quality?

A Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is a comprehensive approach to improving quality for children in child care and other early care settings.  QRIS initiatives evaluate how well participating programs meet the designated criteria.  QIRS assign ratings, assist in designing and implementing improvement plans and help the public use this information to make decisions about child care. A QRIS is a way for states to improve the quality of child care and to help parents recognize quality child care.

Ohio's Quality Improvements

Step up to QualityStep up to Quality

Step Up To Quality is Ohio's voluntary quality rating system for child care programs recognizing early care and education programs that exceed quality for Ohio's Children. Supports and awards are available to assist ODJFS programs in achieving and maintaining a Star Rating. In December 2011, Ohio was awarded the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. As part of the grant application, Ohio made a commitment to revise and expand the current tiered Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) system and broaden participation to all early childhood settings (including school districts, child care, and family child care).

The New Step Up To Quality Program Standards

Because of the expansion and revision of Ohio’s current SUTQ system, Ohio has had to revise and expand the SUTQ program standards. The SUTQ standards, formerly known as benchmarks, have been expanded from three to five levels offering programs a chance to move to higher levels of quality while supporting continuous quality improvement.  The combination approach requires programs to meet every standard at levels 1, 2 and 3 but allows programs the flexibility of choosing standards in steps four and five to reach higher step levels.

Step Up To Quality is moving from voluntary participation by programs licensed by ODJFS to required participation by (2020) for all publically funded programs which include entities that receive Early Childhood Education Entitlement funds, Preschool Special Education funds as well as Type B family Child Care.

Step Up to Quality recognizes early care and education programs that are committed to achieving higher standards through Quality Achievement Awards (QAA) and T.E.A.C.H. scholarships.

For more information about Step Up To Quality

Ohio's Infant &Toddler Initiative

The Infant & Toddler Initiative is designed to improve the quality of care available to Infants and Toddlers. With only 1,892 days until a newborn enters kindergarten, we want babies to have responsive and respectful care that will help them be ready for school and life.

The Infant & Toddler Initiative promotes the school readiness of infants and toddlers by strengthening the knowledge and practices of early care and education professionals. The focus is on the importance of responsive relationships, optimal environments and intentional experiences through coaching and care giving supports.

The Infant & Toddler Initiative has produced some documents designed to guide early care and education professionals, such as Standards of Care & Teaching for Ohio’s Infants & Toddlers.

Ohio's Preschool Network

Ohio’s Preschool Network promotes quality through the education of early care and education professionals by focusing on children’s development aligned to state standards, while creating and maintaining optimal environments.

Quality care and learning in preschool is supported by Child Care Connection's Quality Enhancement Specialists. Through professional development, technical assistance and resources, early childhood professionals have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and care teaching strategies to offer intentional experiences.

The Preschool Initiative has produced some documents designed to guide early care and education professionals, Ohio's Early Learning and Development Standards,  and      Core Knowledge and Competencies for birth to age 8.

Ohio's Afterschool Initiative

Afterschool is defined as anytime outside the regular school day. Before/after school, weekend, and summer are all times when children and youth need to be engaged in activities while not in their parents care. The Afterschool initiative is committed to working with all persons and programs that have school age children as part of their program.

The Afterschool Initiative has produced some documents designed to guide early care and education professionals.

Ohio's Core Knowledge & Competencies for Afterschool Professionals, Ohio Kids on the Move:Physical Activity Guidelins for Afterschool Programs and Ohio's New Learning Standards for Academic Learning


Child Care Connection's Quality Specialists

Child Care Connection's Quality Specialists provide professional development, technical assistance and coaching to early childhood professionals and programs.  Contact our Quality Specialists for help with your infant, toddler, preschool and/or school-age classrooms, staff professional development, curriculum, and your administrative practices. Help is a phone call away.

Child Care Connection encourages child care providers to engage in quality improvement.  National accreditation or Step Up To Quality, Ohio's tiered quality rating system are examples.

These voluntary quality indicators can help families identify quality care. Accredited or rated programs may have lower classroom ratios, staff with training in child development, safe and healthy environments and quality curriculum and administrative practices.

Get started today. Contact our Quality Specialists.  Call Child Care Connection at 1-800-407-5437 or email us at



CCC - Bouncing Ball