Quality Makes a Difference. Quality Start helps.

Young children learn and grow when they’re safe, having fun, and are supported by their parents and teachers. High quality early learning helps children’s minds grow. It also gives them the chance to talk to and be with other children and adults. The skills they learn in early learning programs from birth through age five will help them succeed in kindergarten and for the rest of their lives.

Quality Start Riverside County helps educators and programs that work with young children, like child care programs and preschools. When early learning programs sign up for Quality Start, they get classes, training, and money. Those resources help them improve their lessons, classrooms, and skills. Being part of Quality Start shows parents that a program is committed to doing the best for their children.

How Does Quality Start Help Parents/Guardians?

The task of finding a safe and nurturing environment away from home where your child can thrive can be overwhelming. Where do you start your search? How do you know when you’ve found a high quality program?

Quality Start Riverside County helps you choose child care by giving you tools and resources to find the best program for your child’s needs. Quality Start ratings are one piece of information to consider when looking for child care or preschool, in addition to visiting programs and asking questions to learn if the program is right for your family.

To learn more about Quality Start, visit our About page.

To find Quality Start participating programs, visit our Find a Program page.


What Does Quality Child Care Look Like?

How do you know when you have found a quality early learning program? What should you look for? Here are some key characteristics of great care:

  • Safe and Inviting: The classroom, facilities, and program practices should provide a safe and welcoming environment for your child to learn and grow. This may look like a clean, but engaging and comfortable classroom with toys, books, and other child-friendly materials that can spark your child’s curiosity and learning.
  • Small Class Sizes: Class sizes should be small enough for teachers to give individual attention to your child’s learning, well-being, and growth. This may look like teachers regularly engaging in conversation, singing, or reading with all children, so they are aware of the unique strengths and needs of each child.
  • Parents Welcome: The program should welcome parent participation and keep you informed about your child’s progress.
  • Inclusive and Appropriate: The program should respect and accommodate your child’s cultural background and/or special needs, and provide age-appropriate activities that will give your child the skills needed to succeed in kindergarten.
  • Teacher Excellence: Teachers should be trained, educated, and experienced in relevant knowledge areas and techniques to give your child the best quality care.

Here are some resources to help you find an excellent program for your child:

How to Use Quality Start Ratings

Quality Start Riverside County helps parents find high quality early care and education programs for their children through a rating system. This rating system not only helps parents identify programs that are the best fit for their family, but also helps programs continue to raise the level of care they provide. Quality Start programs are committed to quality and go beyond the standard licensing requirements by participating in the rating and improvement system.

Programs that participate in Quality Start are evaluated in different areas that are known to make a difference in quality for children’s learning. Once a program is evaluated, it is given a rating. Parents can search rated programs to find the best options to get their child off to a strong start.

To determine the level of quality of participating early learning programs, Quality Start Riverside County evaluates how each program:

  • Supports children’s health and safety
  • Ensures their teachers are well-trained and are effective
  • Provides a supportive learning environment that teaches children new skills
  • Helps parents become partners in their child’s learning
  • Demonstrates strong leadership and business practices

Visit our Find A Program page to learn more.

Once a participating early learning program has its rating, Quality Start gives them the tools and support needed to continue improving their quality. These resources include a plan to improve quality, trainings, coaching, and other opportunities for professional development. By participating in Quality Start’s rating and quality improvement system, programs demonstrate their commitment to offering quality care and early learning for Riverside County children.


Do you need help covering the cost of quality child care?

Financial assistance is available to families who may not be able to afford quality child care or preschool. The resources on this page will help you learn more about financial assistance programs that cover some or all of the costs for quality early education, and will help you to see if you qualify for aid.

Bringing Quality Early Learning Home

Early childhood development starts at home, and Quality Start wants to help you as a parent/guardian bring quality early learning to your household. From playing with toys to reading books on a regular basis, there are many easy and fun ways to keep your child engaged outside of the classroom. Not only will your child gain new important skills, but you will also have the chance to bond as a family. Need ideas or more information? Check out these resources below, and don’t hesitate to ask your child’s teacher.