PLUS Quality Programs
Quality Counts distinguishes programs that are successful recognized by NAEYC Accreditation, NAFCC Accreditation, Outdoor Classroom Project, and The Preschool Foods and Healthy Habit Initiative with a PLUS rating. Each of these organizations provide external validation and support aimed at helping programs improve their QRIS ratings.
The following is additional information about each PLUS Program. If you know of a quality initiative that could be recognized by Quality Counts as a PLUS Program, send an email to qualitycounts@First5sbc.org with a description of how the program is externally validated and aligns with the QRIS standards.
NAEYC Accreditation is a professional voluntary self-study process by which early childhood programs demonstrate that they meet 10 national standards of excellence and quality. Programs that meet these standards provide a safe and healthy environment for children, have teachers and staff who are well-trained and provide appropriately challenging and developmentally sound learning activities. These programs are continuously improving themselves to provide the best possible educational opportunities for children. The accreditation process includes gathering information from families, teachers and administrators, and observing the care and education provided to children. For more information on accreditation visit www.naeyc.org.
NAFCC Accreditation is a professional voluntary self-study process by which family child care programs demonstrate that they meet 5 national standards of excellence and quality. The NAFCC Quality Standards are built around the concept that relationships are a critical component in providing high quality care. The relationships that a provider develops with individual children, those that are formed among the children themselves, and the relationships with each family are all important factors in how well the program meets the needs of both the provider and the families served. The NAFCC accreditation process is designed to be a continuum of professional development and quality improvement. For more information on accreditation visit www.nafcc.org.
The Outdoor Classroom Project (OCP)
OCP is dedicated to increasing the quantity, quality, and benefit of outdoor experiences for children in early care and education programs through providing educational and consulting services on the value and design of engaging outdoor learning environments to teachers, administrators, and parents. OCP, an initiative of the Child Educational Center (CEC), Caltech/JPL Community, in La Cañada, California, is founded on the belief that early care and education programs have the power to address these challenges by providing rich and engaging outdoor learning experiences.
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
~ John Muir
Experience in the field and child development research alike are showing that all children need and benefit from more time outdoors; it is critical for their health, self-concept, and future school success. The optimal learning and growing environment for young children is composed of a full integration of indoor and outdoor spaces. The Outdoor Classroom enhances and adds to the limited scope of activities available inside confined classrooms by providing for hands-on experiences, physical activity, social-emotional growth through peer interaction, and multifaceted approaches to cognitive development that connect children to nature and maximize their learning outcomes.
The Outdoor Classroom can be created and used with almost every curriculum, for any population of children, and at virtually any program of early care and education. OCP’s goal is to educate teachers, administrators, and parents about the value of outdoor play for children’s development, and help child care centers cultivate stimulating outdoor environments and activities at their sites.