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Oregon Launches Field Test of Oregon Program of Quality
Child Care, Quality Improvement
Source Of Information:
ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates
Recognizing the difficulty many child care programs have in achieving national accreditation, Oregon developed a state designation of quality that serves as a stepping stone between basic licensure requirements and national accreditation. The Oregon Program of Quality (OPQ) is designed to improve the quality of child care programs in the state, recognize higher quality programs, and increase the number of child care providers that are eligible to partner with Head Start/Early Head Start and Early Intervention.
The state developed OPQ standards by creating a crosswalk between Head Start Performance Standards, NAEYC accreditation standards, Oregon’s early learning guidelines for birth to five, and state licensure requirements. The six areas of commonality identified through this process provided the basis for the OPQ Standards of Quality that child care programs must meet to receive OPQ designation: collaborative family involvement; enhancing child development and learning; maintaining an appropriate physical environment; highly qualified personnel; effective administrative and business practices; and promoting health and safety. Indicators and performance criteria for each area were also developed.
Oregon began a field test of OPQ in January with a cohort of 25 programs from across the state representing registered family, certified family, and certified center-based child care programs in urban and rural areas. Participants were selected through an application review process. Programs must be licensed, have been in operation for at least three years, serve low-income families, show a commitment to making program improvements, and demonstrate a readiness to meet OPQ standards.
A number of supports have been built into OPQ to help participating child care programs achieve OPQ designation. Participants begin by attending a group orientation during which they are familiarized with the OPQ standards and begin working on quality improvement plans to guide their technical assistance. Over a seven-month contract period, programs receive individualized technical assistance from Western Oregon University and up to $5,000 in quality assistance funds to help make improvements. At the end of the contract, programs are required to submit a portfolio demonstrating how they meet the OPQ Standards of Quality. The portfolios will be assessed by a review team, and a randomly selected group of programs will receive on-site audits. Successful programs will be awarded OPQ designation and receive a $1,000 incentive grant.
Some aspects of OPQ, such as the renewal process, have not yet been determined. The field test will provide important information that will aid state officials and policymakers in continuing to shape the program. OPQ is one component of Oregon’s Education & Quality Investment Partnership, the state’s comprehensive child care quality initiative, and is funded through a combination of public and private funds. Oregon hopes to begin the application process for a second cohort in late 2011. The state is also exploring opportunities for foundations and other private organizations to fund additional cohorts in their communities or specific aspects of the OPQ process.