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Commissioner's Corner!

with First 5 Tulare County Chair, Julie Berk


August marks the traditional start of school for children across the county. New backpacks, the smell of a fresh box of crayons and newly sharpened pencils can be found in every classroom. Parents, teachers and students are nervous and excited about a successful school year.

The success of each student is based on what each individual child brings to the classroom as they begin their educational career. We already know the importance of Early Childhood Education. Research shows that providing a high-quality education for children before they turn five yields significant long term benefits. A well-known study, the High/Scope Perry School Project, found that individuals that were enrolled in a quality pre-school program were more likely to graduate high school, to own homes, and earn more than those who did not participate. The Abecedarian Project showed similar results. Both studies proved that those who are in quality preschool programs are less likely to repeat grades, need special education or get in trouble with the law.

The ongoing dilemma was how to recognize quality programs. In 2015, Tulare County Office of Education- Early Childhood Program applied and was awarded funding from California Department of Education’s State Preschool Program Quality Rating and Improvement System (CSPP-QRIS) Block Grant as well as the Infant and Toddler QRIS Block Grant and the First 5 California IMPACT Grant all to fund the QRIS in Tulare County, now known as Tulare County Early Stars.

A Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early education programs. These funds are geared towards improving the quality of early care and education programs in a variety of settings including, infant and toddler care, Head Start center base, Early Head Start, California State Preschool Programs, private programs, early education inclusion programs, and family child care homes.

Tulare County’s local QRIS is known as Tulare County Early Stars. Tulare County Early Stars provides coaching, training, materials, supplies, and other incentives to early care and education programs throughout the county. The goal is that all children have access to high quality programs so that they thrive in their early learning settings and succeed in kindergarten and beyond. QRIS strives to improve the quality of early learning with a focus in three areas of program quality: child development and readiness for school; teachers and teaching; and program and environment quality.

Tulare County is fortunate to have such a strong force behind improving early child education settings for the children and families in our county. If you are interested in learning more about Tulare County Early Stars please contact Lorena Castillo at 559-651-3022 or

Now, with the new Quality Rating and Improvement System, parents can enroll their child in a quality program that includes school readiness and social emotional development.


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