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Race To The Top

Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant

What is the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge?
The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) is a federally funded pilot program that will improve the quality of licensed child care programs. RTT-ELC’s goal is to close the achievement gap for young children ages birth to five who are “high needs” (e.g. low-income, English learners, have special needs or are under the supervision of child protective services).

RTT-ELC funds will help 16 counties work together to implement a common quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for licensed child care programs up through June 2016. Currently, 25 states have a statewide QRIS. RTT-ELC offers California an exciting opportunity to begin working towards that vision by building upon local county investments and resources. Please view this fact sheet created by Children Now for more background information about RTT-ELC or visit the California Department of Education Child Development Division’s website at www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/rt

What will RTT-ELC do in Los Angeles County?
The Los Angeles County Office of Child Care will use RTT-ELC funds to improve the quality of licensed family child care homes and center-based programs serving high need children. Our goal is to serve up to 305 child care programs by providing quality rating assessments, quality improvement training, coaching and financial incentives. 

To achieve our goals, our office will partner with UCLA’s Center for Improving Child Care Quality to conduct quality ratings and with local Child Care Resource and Referral (R&R) agencies to offer on-site quality improvement coaching services. Our RTT-ELC implementation model is largely based on collaborating with existing systems to improve early education quality.  Please view this brochure for detailed information about our implementation plans.

Who can participate in RTT-ELC?
Licensed family child care homes and child development centers that are serving high needs children ages birth to five may volunteer to participate in our RTT-ELC pilot program.
Our office has met its recruitment goals but its maintaining a waitlist for programs interested in joining RTT-ELC. If you operate a licensed child care program in LA County that serves high need children ages birth to five and are interested in participating in RTT-ELC, please email sib_occ@ceo.lacounty.gov

What free services does RTT-ELC offer child care programs that join?
Child care programs that choose to participate in our RTT-ELC pilot program will be eligible to receive:

  • A grant to support quality improvements;
  • On-site quality improvement coaching services; and
  • Two on-site observations and quality ratings, conducted by highly trained and reliable reviewers.

Our RTT-ELC funding will expire June 30, 2016. Therefore, our services will be offered up until that date.

How does RTT-ELC rate child care quality?
RTT-ELC evaluates three core areas of a child care program’s operation: 1) Child development and school readiness; 2) Teachers and teaching; and 3) Program and environment quality. These three areas have been shown by research and best practice to impact the quality of care, and consist of the following elements:

  • Child observation
  • Development and health screenings
  • Early childhood educator qualifications
  • Effective teacher-child interactions
  • Ratios and group size (for center-based programs only)
  • Program environment
  • Director qualifications (for center-based programs only)

The quality of each of these elements is rated using a point-based system from one to five, with five representing the highest quality level.

A child care program’s overall RTT-ELC quality rating is the result of the program’s demonstrated ability to meet RTT-ELC’s quality standards per each element. Click on the following link to view the most up-to-date version of RTT-ELC’s Quality Rating Standards for Centers and Family Child Care Homes:

RTT Child Care Rating Guide
The RTT Child Care Rating Guide is a listing of early care and education programs – centers and family child care homes – particpating in the Los Angeles County Office of Child Care’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.  Each particpating program’s listing includes an overall quality rating and a rating on each of the seven quality standards – child observation, development and health screening, early childhood educator qualifications, effective teacher-child interactions, ratios and group size (for center-based programs only), program environment, and director qualifications (for center-based programs only).

Application Materials

The Office of Child Care is currently not accepting new applications.  If you are interested on being placed in our waitlist, please call us at (213) 974-1664 or email sib_occ@ceo.lacounty.gov.

Quality Improvement Resources

  • RTT-ELC Resource Guide - coming soon!

Contact Information
For more information about our implementation of the RTT-ELC pilot program, please contact the Office of Child Care by e-mail at sib_occ@ceo.lacounty.gov or by telephone at (213) 974-1664 and ask to be connected to the RTT-ELC Program Manager, Helen Chavez.


Office of Child Care
Service Integration Branch/Chief Executive Office
222 South Hill Street, 5th Floor
Los Angeles, CA  90012
(213) 974-4103 Telephone • (213) 217-5106 Facsimile

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