First 5 Santa Barbara County is one of the 16 participants in California’s successful Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant application to the federal government.

First 5 will act as lead of a regional leadership consortium tasked with developing an early care and education quality rating system for Santa Barbara County, to assess and improve the quality of local early care and education programs.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting venture, and look forward to partnering with community members to develop a strong Quality Rating System through which we will all benefit — children, parents and the community,” said Patricia Wheatley, executive director of First 5 Santa Barbara County.

California’s $52.6 million award for the ELC was announced last Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“This grant will help more California children get good care and a good start at learning, which we know is key to their long-term success, at school and beyond,” Torlakson said.

California was among 35 states to submit an application for the ELC, a $500 million state-level competitive grant program to improve early learning and development. The California grant will primarily fund local Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) being developed by regional leadership consortia. These consortia will work with licensed child care programs, school districts and child care partners to make information about the quality of child-care programs readily available to parents and policymakers though simple, independent and publicly available ratings and improve the availability of high-quality service to children.

First 5 Santa Barbara County Children and Families Commission, funded by Proposition 10, works in partnership with individuals and organizations throughout the county, to support the health, early learning and well-being of children pre-natal to age 5 and their families. Click here for more information, call 805.884.8085.

— Eileen Monahan is the manager of the Early Care and Education Division for First 5 Santa Barbara County.