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Here are the answers to some of our most asked questions. If you don’t see the answer to your question below, please contact us.

What is SDQPI?

SDQPI is a systemic approach to assessing, improving and communicating the level of quality in early care and education programs. This system helps improve the quality of participating programs so they are better prepared to help all children grow socially, emotionally, and physically in a healthy environment, with knowledgeable and caring providers who engage children in a range of enriching activities.

What are the main elements of quality?

Relationships: Program promotes positive relationships among all children and adults. Children and adults feel welcome when they visit and every time after. Teachers help children get used to the program, being away from family, and making friends with other children. The conversations between teachers and children are warm and friendly. Teachers help children resolve conflicts by identifying feelings, describing problems, and trying alternative solutions.

Curriculum: The program should follow a research-based curriculum that promotes learning and development in each of the following areas: social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive. The curriculum should include goals for what the children are learning, planned activities linked to these goals, daily schedules and routines, and materials to be used. Children learn and develop through exploration and play, and teachers work with individual children as well as small groups. Activities help children with reasoning, solving problems, getting along with others, using language, and developing other skills.

Teaching: Children have different learning styles, needs, capacities, interests, and backgrounds. The program should use developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate teaching approaches that enhance each child’s learning and development. Teachers provide indoor and outdoor playtime and organize time and space so that children can work or play individually and in groups. Strategies and materials are modified to respond to the needs and interests of the children.   

Assessment of Child Progress: The program engages in formal and informal assessments using a variety of methods to provide information on children’s learning and development. Assessment methods are appropriate for each child’s age and level of development and encompass all areas of development, including math, science, and other cognitive skills; language; social-emotional; and physical. Families receive information about their child’s development and learning on a regular basis. 

Health: The program promotes the nutrition and health of children and protects children and staff from illness and injury. Staff have training in pediatric first aid. The program has policies regarding regular hand washing and routinely cleans and sanitizes all surfaces in the facility. There is a clear plan for responding to illness, including how to decide whether a child needs to go home and how families will be notified. Snacks and meals are nutritious, and food is prepared and stored safely.  

Staff Competencies, Preparation, and Support: The program employs and supports a teaching staff with the educational qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment to young children and early childhood development. The program provides ongoing staff development, including orientations for new staff and opportunities for continuing education.  

Families: To support children’s optimal learning and development, programs should establish relationships with families, involve families in their children’s educational growth, and encourage families to fully participate in the program. Teachers and staff talk with families about their family structure and their views on childrearing and use that information to adapt the curriculum and teaching methods to the families served.   

Community Relationships: The program establishes relationships with and uses the resources of the children’s communities to support the achievement of program goals. The program connects with and uses museums, parks, libraries, zoos, and other resources in the community. Representatives from community programs, such as musical performers and local artists, are invited to share their interests and talents with the children.  

Physical Environment: The program has a safe and healthful environment that provides appropriate and well-maintained indoor and outdoor physical environments. The program has necessary furnishings, such as hand-washing sinks, child-size chairs, and tables, cots, cribs, beds, or sleeping pads. A variety of materials and equipment appropriate for children’s ages, skills, and abilities is available and kept clean, safe, and in good repair. First-aid kits, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and other safety equipment are installed and available. 

Leadership and Management: The program administrator has educational qualifications. The program is licensed and/or regulated by the applicable state agency. The program’s written policies and procedures are shared with families and address issues such as the program’s philosophy and curriculum goals, policies on guidance and discipline, and health and safety procedures. Appropriate group sizes and ratios of teaching staff to children are maintained.

How do I find an early education and care provider?

San Diego County offers a variety of program settings from which parents can choose an early care and education provider best suited to their child and unique situation. These settings include: center-based programs subsidized by the California Department of Education or Head Start; school district-based programs; college-based centers; for-profit, faith-based or non-profit centers; and family child care homes. Any of these setting may serve children from infancy through preschool.

To find a preschool, infant/toddler center, or family child care home that is participating in SDQPI visit our Program Finder.

Families can also call the YMCA Childcare Resource Service to determine which programs might meet their needs and can look for quality elements when visiting early learning settings to find the right match. Please call 619-521-3070 or 1-800-481-2151 to speak with a child care consultant or visit the Resource and Referral website.