"We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open."

- Harry Edwards

Why Care about Early Care and Education?

The experiences that young children have shape the architecture of their brains. Positive experiences build a sturdy foundation in the brain. With more children spending long hours in child care today than ever before, it is critical that early care and education programs offer high quality learning environments and create optimal learning experiences for all children. Research shows that young children who participate in programs with high quality learning environments are more likely to be prepared for school success, children who do not can be as much as 18 months behind when they arrive at school.
Every parent wants the best start in life for their child.
Quality Counts can help.
Quality Counts is a system of continuous quality improvement – CQI – for early care and education programs. Participating programs receive an assessment that results in a Star rating. An individualized Quality Improvement Plan is developed from the assessment. Specialized training, coaching, director network meetings, and relationship-based technical assistance are the components for quality improvement. Programs receive a Star Rating annually. Parents can use the Star Rating to help take the guess work out of choosing the child care that is right for their family.

Fall in Love with Learning

I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC in early August to attend the BUILD Initiative’s 2013 QRIS National Meeting. It was an impactful meeting with researchers sharing the latest studies and promising practices and state leaders who spoke about what those studies meant in terms of actual practice in their states. Enlightening. Encouraging. Insightful. Every session offered powerful knowledge and advice that would serve to inform our future work. I returned to Spartanburg...

Recognizing Excellence in Care and Education

Barbara Manoski, Quality Counts Program Director, recently wrote a guest blog for the Mary Black Foundation. To read her blog post, click here.

Spartanburg Efforts to Improve Education Begin in the Crib

As leaders in the Spartanburg community fight to improve education, they’ve taken the battle all the way to the crib.

Spartanburg County First Steps and the Mary Black Foundation are preparing to introduce a new program for increasing the quality of child care and early childhood education. Quality Counts, a community-based, voluntary quality rating and improvement system, is designed to evaluate child development centers, provide training and resources, and elevate the quality of...

  • Key Indicators of Quality

    Click on the hands below to learn how key indicators of quality care and early education support Quality Counts’ Program Standards.

    Ratio and Group Size

    Good staffing ratios and small group sizes are important for high quality child care. Children learn best with individualized or small group instruction and care. The fewer the children per each adult, the better care and attention a child will receive. This is especially important for infants and toddlers who are part of our most vulnerable populations.


    Learning Environment

    A quality learning environment facilitates children’s growth and learning. It should be a safe and healthy space that offers age-appropriate materials and opportunities to stimulate children’s thinking while allowing them to play, explore, socialize, and experience new things.


    Family Engagement

    Parent involvement is a key component of high quality child care. Parent participation allows open lines of communication between a child’s caregivers and parents and fosters continuity between home and the child care program. Regular sharing of information and activities builds relationships and increases trust and comfort for all those involved.

    Program Administration

    High quality child care programs have effective leadership and management practices. Child care programs that have policies and procedures in place to support staff will ultimately result in program stability and better care for the children.

    Staff Qualifications

    The formal education of a child care teacher and director have a direct impact on the children in their care. Formal education can be obtained through universities, colleges, and community colleges. This education is in addition to the 15 hours of annual training required by the Department of social Services. Well-educated staff members with knowledge of early childhood education and development are better equipped to help young children learn and be successful in the future.

  • Spotlight on Quality

    Click here to view all videos
  • In The News