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STEP Child Care Quality Rating Guide – Coming soon!

Application Materials

STEP Scoring Matrices

Quality Improvement Resources

STEP Brochure (English / Spanish)

STEP Evaluation Reports

STEP Contact Information

What is STEP?
The Steps to Excellence Program (STEP) is Los Angeles County’s first quality rating and improvement system for licensed child care programs serving children ages 0-5.

STEP was developed by the Policy Roundtable for Child Care and is administered by the Office of Child Care within the Service Integration Branch of the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office.

The purpose of STEP is to:

  • Provide parents with clear, concise information on the quality of individual child care settings
  • Create incentives and supports for programs to meet and maintain higher program standards
  • Distinguish programs that are meeting these higher standards
  • Provide benchmarks to determine if the quality of care in individual programs or communities is improving over time

Who can participate in STEP?
Participation in STEP is voluntary.
Child development centers and licensed family child care homes serving children ages 0-5 located in any of the following STEP communities are eligible to participate in STEP:

  • Altadena
  • Boyle Heights (zip code 90033)
  • Florence/Firestone (zip codes 90001 and 90002)
  • Granada Hills
  • Inglewood
  • Lancaster
  • Long Beach
  • Mission Hills
  • Pacoima/Arleta
  • Palmdale
  • Pasadena
  • Pomona
  • San Fernando (zip codes 91340, 91341, 91344, 91345 and 91346)
  • San Pedro
  • Santa Monica
  • Torrance
  • Watts/Willowbrook (zip codes 90002,90044, 90051, 90059 and 90061)
  • Wilmington

Applicants must also possess a child care license for at least one year in order to participate in STEP.

What services does STEP offer?
Child care programs that choose to participate in STEP will be eligible to receive:

  • A one-time grant (up to $5,000) to support quality improvements that directly relate to STEP quality areas;
  • Priority enrollment in free quality improvement trainings and workshops sponsored by the Office of Child Care; and
  • A free on-site observation and quality rating conducted by highly trained and reliable reviewers.

How does STEP rate child care quality?
STEP examines six areas of a child care program’s operation. These areas have been shown by research and best practice to impact the quality of care, and include:

  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Teacher/Child Relationships
  • Learning Environment
  • Identification and Inclusion of Children with Special Needs
  • Staff Qualifications and Working Conditions
  • Family and Community Connections

The quality of each of these areas is rated using a scale of one to five. The following is a brief summary of what the different STEP quality levels mean:

STEP 1: Beginning Quality Level
STEP 2: Intermediate Quality Level
STEP 3: Good Quality Level
STEP 4: Advanced Quality Level
STEP 5: Excellent Quality Level

A child care program’s overall STEP quality rating is the result of the program’s demonstrated ability to meet STEP’s quality criteria per each quality area. Click on either of the following links to view more information regarding STEP’s quality criteria and rating system:

What do the STEP ratings mean?
All programs rated by STEP have a three-year history of substantial compliance with child care licensing regulations. Programs rated at STEP 1 meet these basic health and safety regulations. Programs with scores of 2 and above exceed basic regulations. As STEP scores increase, so do the environmental, relational and educational standards for child care professionals working with young children. Programs with higher STEP ratings have demonstrated an ability to meet the various quality criteria that support early learning and healthy emotional development of young children.

Who is participating in STEP?
As of June 2013, approximately 245 family child care homes and child development centers are actively participating in the Steps to Excellence Program. As of 2009, STEP has issued quality ratings to over 300 child care and development programs.

View the STEP Child Care Quality Rating Guide to view quality ratings achieved by each STEP rated child care program.

Application Materials
Licensed child care programs – both centers and family child care homes – within the STEP communities are eligible to participate in STEP. Currently due to funding restrictions, we are not enrolling new child care and development programs into STEP. However, if you are interested in joining our waitlist, please e-mail us at sib_occ@ceo.lacounty.gov.

Quality Improvement Resources

STEP Evaluation Reports

The Los Angeles County Office of Child Care contracted with Wold and Associates to survey and interview child care providers to obtain input on the implementation of STEP. Click on one of the following links to view STEP’s evaluation reports:

STEP Contact Information

For more information on STEP, contact the Office of Child Care by e-mail at sib_occ@ceo.lacounty.gov or by telephone at (213) 974-4103 and ask to be connected to a STEP representative.

Office of Child Care, within the Service Integration Branch
of the Chief Executive Office
222 S. Hill St., 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-4103 Phone – (213) 217-5106 Fax

Office of Child Care Home Page