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Advancing Excellence in Early Education
The WestEd E3 Institute promotes the professional development of Santa Clara County's early childhood educators to ensure high quality early learning experiences for the County's youngest children. E3 accomplishes its goals through two primary programs -- Comprehensive Approaches to Raising Educational Standards (CARES) and the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). The CARES program offers financial incentives to early educators for completion of unit-bearing coursework aimed at the completion of a college degree and for certain preapproved professional development trainings. The QRIS initiative provides a structure for licensed infant/toddler and preschool programs to assess the quality of their services through a tiered rating system.

The E3 Institute is a project of the WestEd Center for Child and Family Studies (CCFS). CCFS is dedicated to helping children get a healthy start in life, with a particular focus on children and families living in poverty, dual language learners, and those with disabilities or other special needs.

CCFS is a leader in promoting high-quality, research-based early care and education services, and its work informs national, state, and local child and family policies.

Our Programs

The Santa Clara CARES Plus Program provides financial awards to early educators based on their educational achievement and the completion of professional development activities. These financial stipends have proven to be significant incentives to early educators towards furthering their education and enhancing their professional development. The CARES Plus program has influenced the leadership development of participating early educators by emphasizing the connection between higher educational standards and improved child outcomes. The CARES Plus program has been recognized as a state model because it uses a robust data collection and analysis system to continually meet the needs of its participants.
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Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
A QRIS system creates a common definition of quality, uses a system of ratings and assessments to evaluate early learning programs against this definition of quality, and coordinates professional development and improvement supports to help early learning programs enhance program quality. The Santa Clara County QRIS includes more than 80 centers and Family Child Care homes throughout the County. Funded through the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant, Santa Clara is one of 16 counties throughout California implementing a QRIS. Additionally, Santa Clara County is a participating county of the Bay Area QRIS Partnership that is focused on building a coordinated approach to QRIS in the region. The Bay Area partnership (PDF) is comprised of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties.
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