Quality Initiatives

Children’s brains are growing most quickly during their first years of life, and their experiences during these critical early years lay the foundation for the rest of their lives.

A child with a toy guitar

Quality care – care that provides a loving, safe, stable and age-appropriate stimulating environment – provides the basis for healthy nurturing relationships, and helps children enter school ready to learn.

In addition to providing subsidies to offset the cost of child care, DHS funds a variety of initiatives that support early care and education for providers to enhance the quality of their programs. DHS also provides workforce development opportunities for the current and future child care entrepreneurs and teachers.  


BrightStars is the statewide quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for state licensed child care centers, family child care homes, public preschools, and school age programs in RI. BrightStars helps programs to access and improve quality, and also helps parents choose quality in child care programs.

DHS contracts with The Rhode Island Associating for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC) to manage Rhode Island’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) known as BrightStars. Brightstar’s is designed to increase access to high-quality early learning programs for all RI families and children. Participating providers receive professional development and technical assistant support to evaluate their program and meet research-based quality benchmarks based on a scale of one to five.

Additionally, BrightStars helps families in Rhode Island access quality child care, early learning, and school-age programs through their referral program. 

The Early Childhood Education and Training Program

DHS contracts with CCRI to operate the Rhode Island Early Childhood Education and Training Program (RIECETP), one of several early care and education quality initiatives developed to support the Birth-5 workforce to obtain the requisite knowledge, competencies and skills to provide optimal learning environments where children thrive.

The RIECETP is a comprehensive and unique education and training program that strengthens the knowledge and skills of both seasoned and novice early childhood educators by providing formal academic course work and training using a cohort model to optimize the experience for the adult student.

RIECETP offers two stackable pathways to achieve credentialing and/or college credits. Students have the option to enroll in one of three Child Development Associate (CDA) programs of study, (FCCP, Infant Toddler and PreK) which leads to a nationally recognized early childhood credential. The second pathway is a four-course sequence where students can earn up to 12 college credits in early childhood education over the duration of a 16-month period. Each program of study is aligned to the state’s QRIS system and complimentary to the RI ECE workforce pathway.

Center for Early Learning Professionals (CELP)

DHS contracts with the Education Development Center, to manage and operate the CELP, Rhode Island’s professional development and technical assistance (PDTA) hub where the early care and education workforce can access  professional development training and continuous quality improvement to obtain state approved and required PD and TA aligned to Rhode Island’s early care and education systems, including advancement  within the quality levels as outlined in the BrightStars, quality rating and improvement system.

Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards (RIELDS)

The standards outline early learning expectations at key benchmarks, from birth to 60 months of age. They are designed to guide early childhood educators and families to support a child’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development, and to provide a framework for implementing high-quality early childhood programs.

Child Care Facilities Fund

DHS contracts with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to manage the Rhode Island Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund (RICCELFF). The fund helps early learning programs develop safe, high quality learning environments – both indoor and outdoor. Services include, low interest capital and technical assistance to improve the existing child care facilities as well as the development of new facilities. Read some of the reports that led to the fund in our Research, Reports and Newsletters page. 

PDG Pathways

Through the state's Preschool Development Grant Birth-Five Renewal award (PDG B-5), Rhode Island is innovatively expanding high-quality infant/toddler slots by scaling the Early Head Start/Child Care (EHS/CC) Partnership. EHS introduces comprehensive services and resources into the array of traditional child care and family child care settings and creates new opportunities to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, and their families. This evidence-based approach adheres to the research-based Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) and aims to partner with early childhood education programs and family child care homes to support improving program quality and outcomes for children and families through providing access to mentoring/coaching, professional development & programmatic support and funding to support the delivery of services. For more information, please contact the Head Start Collaboration Office. You can also read more about the use of the PDG B-5 grant by reading "Infant Toddler Registered Apprentice Pilot" on the Workforce Development page.  


SUCCESS is a free service that pairs early learning programs with Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants to support the social, emotional, and behavioral health needs of identified children. We strive to collaborate with early learning programs to ensure all children have access to a safe and supportive learning environment, enter school ready to learn, and are poised for future success.

Child Care Health Consultation

From 2008 to 2017, DHS funded and the RI Department of Health (RIODH) managed a Child Care Health Consultation (CCHC) model for licensed, early learning programs statewide. The CCHC model employed registered nurses who are skilled in child care and pediatric healthcare to support early childhood providers and the families they serve to understand and implement basic health, safety, wellness, development, and nutrition guidelines for young children served in group-based care.  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, child care has demonstrated an increased awareness to health and safety standards and our providers have worked tirelessly to enhance procedures and protocols to prevent infection and spread in their program and/or home. Despite these enhanced protocols and health and safety standards, child care providers have expressed a need to have direct contact with health experts to understand, triage and respond to potential cases and exposures of COVID-19 within their child care facilities as well as additional health and safety precautions post-pandemic.

In March 2021, DHS announced it is in the process of re-launching the CCHC with Meeting Street. Here is a flyer with more information.