VIVA provided quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) mentoring and integration support to San Mateo County, building on the county’s strong existing capacity in early childhood education to bring it quickly up to speed on QRIS implementation.


In 2011, California was awarded a federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant to improve early childhood education systems. In the Bay Area, five neighboring counties received funding to design and implement QRIS, with one exception–San Mateo. When supplemental funding was released that required funded counties to mentor non-RTT-ELC counties, the Bay Area elected to fill in the gap by supporting San Mateo County to quickly develop a robust QRIS model.


San Mateo County has long had a strong capacity in early childhood education, as well as strong partnerships between its First 5 Commission, County Office of Education, and resource and referral agency, 4Cs. With that background and other early learning quality efforts already existing in the county, it was well-positioned to develop a QRIS.

VIVA was brought on to mentor the county’s early learning partners on QRIS, supporting them to develop a QRIS model and meet RTT-ELC grant requirements, in order to rate 60 early learning sites prior to the grant deadline. VIVA also served to orient San Mateo County into the region-wide QRIS work being done by the Bay Area Quality Early Learning Partnership.

In the second year of work with the county, VIVA’s role shifted to provide integration support. VIVA helped the county’s early learning partners coordinate QRIS with other grant opportunities, align it to local early learning initiatives, and integrate existing quality improvement efforts into the QRIS model. VIVA’s support helped the county ramp up its QRIS efforts very quickly and weave QRIS into its existing early learning efforts in an impactful and strategic way.

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