CSPP QRIS Block Grant FAQFrequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to the California State Preschool Program (CSPP) Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Block Grant.
What is the purpose of the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Block Grant?
Funds are to be allocated to local consortia operating a quality rating and improvement system for California State Preschool Programs (CSPP) to support local early learning that increases the number of low-income children in high-quality preschool programs and prepares those children for success in school and life.
How can I become a part of a QRIS?
If you are a licensed family child care home provider or a child care center in a county that is operating a QRIS, you can contact the lead agency for information on participation or the application process. Priority I agencies and their mentees are the current lead agencies. A link to the Priority II agencies will be added at a later date.
We are neither a Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) consortium nor a mentee. But we do have QRIS work taking place in our county, we have been unable to move that work forward due to lack of funding. Will we be able to apply?
Only counties or regions that have an operational QRIS that meets the statutory requirements are eligible to apply.
What if there is only one of the representatives not available to sign? Does that forfeit the application eligibility?
If one representative is not available to sign, and that representative’s signature is required, then an authorized delegate should be able to sign. If neither the representative nor designee is able to sign by the application due date, then the application is considered incomplete and not eligible for funding.
What happens if an entity does not agree to sign the application?
The application would be incomplete, and therefore not eligible for scoring, if all of the required signators are not included. If the entity that does not agree to sign the application is not a required party, then the application is still eligible for scoring.
What sort of documentation/verification are you looking for to confirm that a consortium has been established?
Verification of a working consortium will be documented in the applicant’s QRIS Block Grant Plan.
Can you have a lead agency that is not a local education agency (LEA) and identify an LEA as a fiscal agent?
The local QRIS consortium lead does not need to be an LEA. In the instance of a non-LEA consortium lead, the application must be submitted jointly with the consortium lead and an LEA. If a grant is awarded to joint applicants, it shall be one indivisible grant. The CDE will make grant payments to the Lead LEA.
Can your local consortium use a local LEA as a fiscal agent, while identifying another entity as the Lead?
No, an LEA cannot use a local LEA as a fiscal agent when they have identified another entity as the Lead. When a grant is awarded to joint applicants, it shall be one indivisible grant. The California Department of Education (CDE) will make grant payments to the Lead LEA.
Can “other agencies” include private child development centers?
Yes, because Education Code (EC) section 8203.1(b)(2)(F) defines other agencies as “other local agencies, including nonprofit organizations, which provide services to children from birth to five years of age, inclusive.” These other agencies can be part of the Consortia, but only CSPPs are eligible for this block grant.
Are nonprofits that are providing care eligible to be included?
The local QRIS Block Grants can only be distributed to CSPP contractors and Family Child Care Home Education Networks (FCCHENs) who are providing California State Preschool Program services, [i.e., using their CDE Early Education and Support Division (EESD) direct service (not voucher) contract funds] to eligible preschool-age children.
How many higher education entities need to sign?
A minimum of one higher education entity per county must sign as a member of the local consortium.
Can the Local Planning Council (LPC) be the lead agency?
If the LPC is the lead agency of the local QRIS consortium, then they would be expected to sign as the lead agency.
We have been told that only Family Child Care Home Education Networks that are “providing CSSP services“ will be eligible to participate in the QRIS Block Grant and that this stipulation effectively eliminated all FCCHEN during the first year. Is this an accurate statement? How does a FCCHEN provide “CSSP services?"
The entire network may not be eligible. Only the FCCH providers in the network who are serving preschool-aged children with the Network’s CDE CSPP funding and that have been rated at a Tier 4 or Tier 5 would be eligible to receive the local QRIS Block Grants. A FCCHEN provides CSPP services by complying with Title 5 regulations (e.g., conducting Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) assessments), serving preschool-age children with its CSPP contract funds and reporting these children as part of its 801A monthly reporting.
What about Family Child Care Providers who accept state subsidies?
No, Family Child Care Providers who accept state subsidies are not eligible to apply for the QRIS Block Grant. The QRIS Block Grant is state education dollars for CSPPs. Per EC section 8203.1(h), the opportunity for these funds were extended to include FCCHENs. There is no provision in the law for other family care providers, even those who accept state subsidies.
If we are a mentee county of one of the initial 17 consortia, are we eligible for Priority I funding on our own or only as part of the original consortia?
No, 2014-15 Priority I entities must have had a QRIS Action Plan on file with the CDE EESD prior to June 30, 2014.
Is a nonprofit agency that administers CSPP funds considered an LEA?
For the purposes of receiving the QRIS Block Grant funds and state preschool funds, yes. For the purposes of serving as the lead LEA agency, no.
We are a private program with a direct contract for CSPP with exemplary Contract Monitoring Reviews (CMRs). Can we participate?
If your county or region has an operational QRIS, then you can participate in that QRIS and receive local QRIS Block Grant, if you have been rated at Tier 4 or Tier 5.
If the LEA is a priority one applicant but wants to include priority two areas to submit as a region, would the application be submitted as priority one or two?
Priority I means that there is an operational QRIS with a QRIS Action Plan on file with the CDE EESD prior to June 30, 2014. Priority II means that there is an operational QRIS that was rating programs according to the Implementation Guide prior to June 30, 2014 without a QRIS Action Plan on file with the CDE. The local question will be whether the Priority II consortium is willing to implement exactly according to the Priority I consortium’s QRIS Action Plan.
If there is an agreement from the other counties in the region to follow exactly according to Priority I’s QRIS Action Plan, then the regional consortium should apply as Priority I.
If the regional consortium’s QRIS is not exactly like Priority I’s, then they should apply as Priority II.
If we have a current RTT-ELC regional approach, can we have a local application (county-based) application for the QRIS Block grant?
A single county application is acceptable.
If a CSPP contractor wishes to participate in this program, is there any possibility of joining a larger consortium to implement this quality program?
In order to participate in a local QRIS, the CSPP site(s) must be in the geographic boundaries of the QRIS consortium, be that a county or region (group of counties).
If a local consortium has action plans in place for common Tier 4 through their Child Signature Program #2 (CSP2) project but were not part of RTT-ELC, can they be considered Priority I based on their common Tier 4 work?
No, Priority I entities must have had a QRIS Action Plan on file with the CDE EESD prior to June 30, 2014.
Can a Resource and Referral agency (R&R) which holds a Family Child Care Home Education Network Program (CFCC) contract apply directly?
Yes, but not because it holds a CFCC contract. The R&R can apply if it is the lead agency of the local QRIS consortium, and applies as the lead agency along with an LEA lead and signatures from the other consortium members.
Would mentee counties be under Priority II, or will they fall under the umbrella of the 17 Consortia?
Yes, mentee counties qualify under Priority II, as they did not have a QRIS Action Plan on file with the CDE EESD prior to June 30, 2014.
Is the Community College considered Post-Secondary or part of the LEA?
A California Community College is both a Post-Secondary institution and an LEA.
Can a chosen LEA get a signature from the local First 5 (F5) to be awarded funds to implement the existing QRIS, and hire their own raters for their own programs without including F5 in the process? Can the LEA proceed without any oversight from the F5 as to how the ratings are being completed? If so, do they have to report the ratings to the F5?
Per EC Section 8203.1(b)(2), to be eligible the local consortium shall include representatives from organizations including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(A) Local educational agencies;
(B) First 5 county commissions;
(C) Local postsecondary educational institutions;
(D) Local child care planning councils;
(E) Local resource and referral agencies;
(F) Other local agencies, including nonprofit organizations that provide services to children from birth to five years of age, inclusive.
As such, the local consortium will need to include the “chosen” LEA applicant/grantee and the local First 5. The ratings must be conducted consistent with the hybrid rating matrix and the most current version of the Implementation Guide; these documents are available on the RTT-ELC Implementation Web site. How the consortium operates regarding reciprocity of ratings is a local decision. Note: The CDE is working to ensure the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) assessments conducted by the CDE EESD Field Services consultants meet the same standard and can be counted as valid ERS scores for local QRIS purposes.
After the initial joint signature, if a site can get a rating of 4 without outside assessments such as ERS and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), wouldn’t it be easy for the County Office of Education (COE) to rate district classrooms and sidestep the local F5 program altogether?
No, a COE cannot “sidestep” the local consortium’s QRIS process. Per the Implementation Guide, CLASS or ERS assessments are to be conducted by reliable, external assessors. Likewise, per the Implementation Guide, rating on the other elements are to be conducted as part of the local QRIS established by the local consortium. Local rating protocols need to be the results of local consortium agreement and be acceptable within the guidelines of the Implementation Guide.
If we do not have all of our sites rated by the application date, will we be able to apply?
Yes, you will need to have at least one participating site fully rated by the release date of the Request for Applications (RFA).
Can we require that Tier 4 or 5 CSPP contract holders submit an application for their Block Grant funds that demonstrates how they will maintain their tier 4/5 rating?
No, the intent of the legislature is that CSPPs rated at Tiers 4 and 5 receive Block Grants as a reward for their demonstration of quality. Additional hurdles/application processes are not intended for receipt of these funds.
If this block grant is for State preschool, are new providers going to be allowed to join?
New California State Preschool providers are eligible to join.
We are rated Tier 5 and have huge numbers of children using Alternative Payment (AP) funding. We also have a Head Start partnership with children needing full day services. Can we receive a local Tier 5 block grant?
No. The CSPP QRIS Block Grant is Proposition (Prop) 98 funding and only accessible to CSPPs. Early learning programs who are participating in their local QRIS have access to its incentives and/or supports. A program that is not a State Preschool is not eligible for a local CSPP QRIS block grant.
Will the RTT-ELC standards for ERS and CLASS also be expected of Block Grant participants?
Yes. The RTT-ELC Hybrid Rating Matrix and the Implementation Guide apply to the QRIS Block Grant participants.
Are other counties not piloting the RTT-ELC Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) able to develop their own QRIS matrix?
No. The statute requires that consortia applying for the QRIS Block Grant must follow the existing TQRIS. Note: All QRIS consortia can collectively agree to make modifications or changes.
Will rating be self-assessed or done with reliable, independent evaluators?
Per the Implementation Guide, the ratings must be conducted by a reliable independent assessor on the ERS and CLASS family of tools. The rater on the other elements is determined by the local consortium.
Will these funds be separate from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) without oversight or statewide collaboration on strategies to use the funds?
The CSPP QRIS Block Grant funds are separate from the RTT-ELC funds. There will be fiscal reporting on expenditures. There will be reporting requirements. All consortia will need to collaborate on any future changes to the Rating Matrix and the Implementation Guide.
Will the awarded LEA keep indirect on this pass through?
The grantee will be allowed to keep indirect on the portion of the funds not going out in local QRIS block grants. The LEA is subject to their CDE indirect rate.
What accountability structures will exist? Will there be budgets and standard operating procedure (SOP)? Will there be EESD consultant contract monitors for these funds? How will the LEA provide fiscal reporting to the state? Who monitors how the money is used, the LEA, the F5?
There will be quarterly or semiannual fiscal reporting. Forms will be developed. The CDE is required to maintain oversight of public funds and review the expenditure reports. Locally, the lead fiscal agent will be responsible for the funds.
Is the LEA required to include the local F5 in decision-making on how money is distributed to the CSPP programs, those that have been already rated at a Tier 4 or above?
The LEA applicant/grantee is responsible to the local consortium, of which local First 5 Commission membership is required, and must comply with the consortium’s decision-making process. The consortium develops its decision-making process.
Given that so few CSPPs will have been rated and awarded Tier 4 or higher during the current fiscal year, will QRIS administrators be held to the 20 percent of funds for assessment and access and 80 percent Block Grants to CSPPs at 4 or higher?
Up to 20 percent remains a cap on assessment and access activities. Of the 80 percent, if only a little is going to local QRIS block grants, then the majority can go for improving the quality of those not yet at Tier 4, i.e., quality improvement activities.
If we require an application (similar to a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)), where does the funding come from for the costs associated with reviewing/approving those applications?
The CDE is absorbing that cost and is not taking any portion of the $50 million. Similarly, local QRIS administrators should not require an application to receive the local QRIS block grant, as the eligible CSPPS have already met the required standard, i.e., been rated at a Tier 4 or higher.
In lieu of an application, can we withhold some of their money “off the top” to cover coaching and training that we provide, so that they maintain Tier 4 or 5 status?
No. Those programs that are awarded local Tier 4 and 5 Block Grants can choose to use those funds as they please. If they want to use their Block Grant funds for coaching and training, they may do so. However, the consortia cannot use its Quality Improvement dollars for those already at or above Tier 4.
Rather than withholding money, can we require that those at Tiers 4 and 5 use some of their funds to purchase coaching and training services from us?
No. The local QRIS Block Grants to Tiers 4 and 5 CSPP sites are intended for those programs to decide how to utilize the funds to maintain and support the quality of their programs.
With a spring-time allocation of funds, are we looking at Prop 98 funds being carried over for expenditure in the 2014-15 school year for CSPP programs?
Yes. The CSPP contractor does not have to expend the grant by June 30, 2015, and can carry the award into 2015-16.The basic reporting requirement is that the CSPP contractor will report the revenue, i.e., the local QRIS block grant, when the revenue is used to pay for QRIS grant expenses (professional development days, training, stipends, bonuses, etc.) which are incurred.
Let’s say CSPP contractor ABC receives a $50,000 grant in May 2015. They only spend $5,000 on a training in June 2015. On their June Fiscal Report (CDFS 8501), they’ll report $5,000 in supplemental revenue and expenses. As they expend the balance of the $45,000 in 2015-16, they’ll report the revenue and expenses on the corresponding monthly or quarterly report forms.
By what date in the fiscal year does the program have to be rated in order to qualify for Tier 4 funding?
It is a local decision: within the grant period, not to exceed one award per year.
What is the total number of CSPP slots in the state?
The total number of CSPP slots varies. For the purposes of this grant, we will consistently be using the CSPP data from the previous October.
Will we be able to roll over unspent allocations in the first year?
No. CSPP QRIS Block Grant funds at the grantee level (Lead LEA) do not roll over.
For slots – is it by full-time, part-time or mixed?
The CDE will be using the 801 data for CSPP children for the month of October of the previous year.
Can CSPP funds be used in FCCHENs?
Yes, if the network was successful in applying for CSPP funds.
Is there any guidance regarding the rate of indirect costs that will be reimbursed to the grantee?
Yes. The CDE will only accept the lead LEA’s CDE-approved indirect rate or less.
Do the awarded dollars need to be expended by the end of this fiscal year (June 30, 2015)?
No. The 2014-2015 CSPP QRIS Block Grant funds must be expended by December 31, 2015.
There is a cap of 20 percent for ratings. Does this 20 percent have to include costs for managing the implementation of the block grant?No. Management of the local block grant and Quality Improvement activities can be funded out of the portion not used for local block grants.
Will a consortium receive dollars (administrative fees) for their decision-making, distribution of funds to LEAs, etc.?
A consortium will not “receive” a separate pot of funds to administer this grant. The local consortium is expected to use its existing process.
Would you clarify if this applies only to part-day CSPP, or does it apply to full-day CSPP also?
This grant applies to both part-day and full-day CSPPs.
What role will a consortium play if LEAs/CSPP providers are ultimately receiving the funds?
The local consortium determines the amount of the local QRIS Block Grants. If there are no CSPPs below Tier 4, at least 80 percent of the funds would go out in local Block Grants and not more than 20 percent could be retained for assessment and access activities.
Does "Increase CSPPs in Tier 4" mean that funds can support Tier 3 programs moving to Tier 4?
Yes. Funds not going for local QRIS Block Grants or for assessment and access activities can be used for Quality Improvement Activities for CSPPs not yet at Tier 4.
Can this money be used by LEA's to improve quality in transitional kindergarten (TK) programs or provide professional development to TK teachers?
No. It is only for State Preschool programs not yet at Tier 4. Note: A transitional kindergarten program is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program and is not a State Preschool program.
What are examples of assessment projects?
Assessment projects may include the program and document review and rating done on the following elements of the Rating Matrix:
- Child Observation
- Developmental & Health Screenings
- Minimum Qualifications for Lead Teacher/Family Child Care Home (FCCH)
- Effective Teacher-Child Interactions: CLASS Assessments
- Ratios and Group Size
- Program Environment Rating Scale Assessments
- Director Qualifications
What is an access project or activity?
Examples of access projects may include, but are not limited to:
- QRIS marketing activities
- Consumer education to families and public awareness campaign about quality child care and the QRIS
- Resource and Referral agencies’ searchable database to inform families of child care centers and homes of QRIS ratings
Must the 20 percent for access and ratings only be used to rate CSPP programs, or can it be used for all programs within a county's QRIS system?
Priority for these funds is for rating CSPP programs; though they could be used to rate other programs if there is an available balance. The access activities are intended for county/regional access activities.
Would Head Start Programs and Center-Based (General) (CCTR) Child Development Programs be affected?
Head Start programs that are braided or blended with CSPPs would be eligible for these Block Grant Quality Improvement services or local block grants if they are also a CSPP contractor. CCTR programs that provide full-day wrap around services for preschool-aged children are eligible.
What is the expected role of the Community College, in particular those with a lab school with CSPP funding?
The CDE hopes that they would participate in their local QRIS and qualify for a local QRIS block grant.
Can you address the distinction between this state grant and the federal RTT-ELC grant?
The federal RTT-ELC grant is time-limited and ends December 31, 2015 (or to June 30, 2016, if the consortium has requested an extension). The state CSPP QRIS Block Grant funding is ongoing with an annual state appropriation of $50 million. The RTT-ELC QRIS Grant funding was distributed to 17 consortia in 16 counties. The CSPP Block Grant funding will be distributed to eligible QRIS counties or regions, the number of which is expected to increase over time, thus the per county/region allocations would likely decrease as more counties have an operational QRIS. Participants in both grants must follow the Quality Continuum Framework, the Rating Matrix, the Continuous Quality Improvement Pathways, and the Implementation Guide.
Will the consortia membership grow as action plans in Priority 2 are approved?
Yes, as more local QRIS consortia have approved QRIS Block Grant Plans, the number of consortia will grow to include not only the original RTT-ELC counties and their respective mentees, but also these new QRIS consortia.
What about CSPPs that don't want to participate in the TQRIS? What is the responsibility of the consortium to include them or not?
CSPPs are not required to participate. However, without participation, they will not have access to the QRIS Block Grant funds. Each local consortium that receives a CSPP QRIS Block Grant award will report on CSPP participation.
Will Licensing have a role?
Yes, the local consortium needs to confirm with Community Care Licensing that the participating programs meet the Tier I requirement of being licensed and “in good standing.” See the Implementation Guide for a definition.