Welcome to the SafeGard Classes Online blog.
We’ve been hearing a lot about Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) and similar quality rating systems for childcare so thought we’d focus this post on quality improvement. The word “quality” can be elusive and sometimes even a little scary, but fear not--we’ll make it easy and rewarding!
First of all, why all the focus on “quality?” From a regulatory perspective, the primary goal of a QRIS is to improve quality across a range of child care programs, with the intent of providing positive experiences for all children. From your perspective, quality service can have a significant impact on your program’s financial well-being! Organizations often lose up to 30% of their customers annually with 69% of those leaving because they simply feel you don’t care enough about them or their business. You may care, but if they perceive you don’t, then in their minds…you don’t. So, can you really afford NOT to focus on quality service?
Let’s dig a little deeper. There are a lot of myths about quality improvement programs that can intimidate even the heartiest of souls. Some popular ones:
- You can’t measure quality
- We already try hard—what more can we do?
- I can’t afford the time or money to manage this
Now, let’s debunk those myths one at a time:
1. Measuring quality
Quality improvement doesn’t have to involve mounds of paperwork and sophisticated statistical analyses. Your efforts primarily need to answer the question: “How can we make this better?”
Think about the most important information you want to monitor (known as Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs) and be sure you have a process in place to measure that data. For example, if you’re tracking students that leave the program, you may want to know more about which classes they were in to see if there’s any correlation between curriculum and retention.
2. Work smarter, not harder
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” How many times have we all heard that? Quality improvement is not just about fixing errors; it’s about continuously making adjustments to improve the overall performance of your program. Keep in mind: 91 percent of unhappy customers will never purchase goods or services from you again but if you make an effort to remedy customer's complaints, up to 95 percent of them will stay with you. Even better, measuring your KPIs and making on-going improvements will hopefully minimize unhappy customers from the start!
Quality improvement initiatives should focus on bringing value to the customer. Value is measured by the customers’ willingness to pay for the services you provide. Organizations that understand this align their service levels with the needs and expectations of the customer.
3. Fitting quality into your program
Have you ever been too busy driving to stop for gas? If so, you probably didn’t repeat that mistake again! Quality improvements don’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Something as simple as determining retention rate by age can help you determine strengths or opportunities within your curriculum.
Start thinking about building customer loyalty. Loyalty is an emotional attachment a customer makes to your program when they feel good about doing business with you. They perceive that you consistently deliver the value they need.
Take the Next Step
We all know the high cost of losing customers, both short-term (revenue) and long-term (referrals, reputation). At the same time, we also want to provide the best service to surprise and delight customers every day! Don’t let the perceived challenges with quality improvement scare you off. Once you get started, I think you’ll find it can be easy to maintain and hopefully you will find the results enlightening and beneficial to your program! Good luck!
Additional resources on quality rating systems:
- US Dept of Health & Human Services--Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
- National Association for Family Child Care
- National Early Childhood Program Accreditation
- Council on Accreditation
- Association of Christian Schools International
- Center on the Developing Child – Harvard University
Be sure the check our website for our current FREE class "Childcare Basics for Support Staff" and come back in July to try our latest FREE class! And please sign-up below so you can be assured of receiving new posts!
Fun facts about July:
- National Blueberry Month
- Anti-Boredom Month
- Hot Dog Month
- Ice Cream Month
- July 15-July 17, 2015 – QRIS National Meeting: Higher Ground Taking Quality to Scale
- July 12, 1960 – First Etch-a-Sketch goes on sale
- July 17, 1955 – Disneyland opens in CA
- July 28 – Birthday of Beatrix Potter (children’s literature author) and Jim Davis (Garfield creator)
“Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle