Playing with Parachute 740x261

Quality Counts Rating Levels

Quality Counts, Sonoma County’s Quality Improvement Rating System, is a 5-Tier rating system that rates the quality of your child’s program.  

The higher the tier, the higher the quality.

Participating programs receive onsite coaching, external assessments, and professional development. 

 Quality Counts is an emerging program and services are limited and due to cost, not all early education programs are able to participate.  

 Quality Counts is about continuous quality improvement. The standards are high, and reaching the quality levels is often a long-term process for child care and preschool programs. Those achieving ratings in the quality levels have met these standards, and all programs enrolled in Quality Counts are committed to making improvements that help prepare kids for school and life.

It’s also important to keep in mind that ratings are just one of several factors to consider in finding the right child care or preschool program for your family’s needs.  Choosing the best program is a personal decision based on a family's unique needs.  What is right for one may not be the best choice for another. 


Quality Criteria Include:

  • Health and safety practices that promote children’s basic well being
  • Staff qualifications, including experience working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers as well as training or college coursework in early childhood development and education
  • Teacher-child interactions that are positive, consistent and nurture healthy development and learning
  • Learning environments, including age-appropriate books, toys and learning materials that promote emotional, social, language and cognitive development
  • Lessons that follow state requirements or recommendations for infants, toddlers and preschooler
  • Group sizes that give young children the individual attention they nee
  • Child assessment and parent communication that keeps families regularly informed of their child’s development

View detailed rating criteria

If you would like to find out more about Quality Counts, visit or call First 5 Sonoma County at 707.522.2022.


Quality Rating Tier legend by color

Tier 5 12x12 Tier 5 Demonstrates quality across all elements
Tier 4 12x12 Tier 4 Demonstrates quality across almost all elements
Tier 3 12x12 Tier 3 Demonstrates quality across several elements
Tier 2 12x12 Tier 2 Demonstrates quality across some elements
Tier 1 12x12 Tier 1 Meets state licensing and is participating in Quality Counts
No Rating 12x12 No Rating Meets state licensing and has applied to Quality Counts

Dark Haired Boy 300x567