​​Choosing a High Quality Program

What does quality early learning look like? Key characteristics of high quality programs include:

  • Careful attention to children's health and safety
  • Caregivers/teachers who have experience and formal education as early learning professionals
  • Learning materials and teaching styles that are age-appropriate, play-based, and respectful of children’s cultural and ethnic heritage
  • Small group sizes, with enough teachers and assistants to give children the attention they need
  • Positive, reciprocal relationships with families, including ongoing opportunities for parent involvement
  • Directors who clearly define their program's early learning philosophy, and support a culture of continuous quality improvement

Learn more about high quality early education in this video. English | Español

Check out the NAEYC for Families resource page on What to Look For in a Program,

including checklists to take with you when visiting programs.

Find a Quality Stars Rated Site!

QualityStart OC can also provide families with information about a program's quality through our Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) called Quality Stars. Early learning programs in Quality Stars QRIS are assessed on seven elements of quality, and assigned a Star Rating from 1-5. 

Participation in Quality Stars QRIS voluntary, and participating programs achieve quality ratings that are above the basic standards required by California Community Care Licensing. All Quality Stars QRIS programs demonstrate a commitment to continuous quality improvement, and program directors will be happy to share their QRIS Star Rating information with parents.

Click here to search for Quality Stars rated programs near you,

or look for the Quality Stars QRIS Participant certificate or window sticker when visiting early learning programs in Orange County.