Continuous Quality Improvement Community of Practice

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is a process which ensures that organizations and their partners are systemic and intentional about improving services and practices and increasing positive outcomes for children and families. CQI is optimally seated in an organizational culture that has a common vision, shared values and beliefs, and a commitment to ongoing quality improvement. CQI is reflective, cyclical and data-driven; it is proactive, not reactive. It goes beyond merely meeting externally applied standards and moves the lever for change internally. Participants control the process themselves through continuous learning and a dedication to “get better at getting better.” Throughout the early childhood education and afterschool field, there is a lot of buzz about CQI linked to Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), accreditation efforts, and government accountability efforts.

In the fall of 2016, the BUILD Initiative launched a CQI Community of Practice (CoP) to bring together leaders in Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Out-of-School Time (OST) with the goal of scaffolding knowledge about CQI through sharing promising practices, asking deep questions, and leveraging each other’s good work.  

CoP members were from nineteen states and the District of Columbia, working in a range of settings (foundations, higher education, county non-profits) and in a range of roles (state agency leads, federal TA providers, QRIS coaches, and child care industry executives). The common thread was a passion for quality improvement using a CQI approach and a conviction that what members learn with each other is critical to boosting collective impact. Members knew from experience the potential that CQI has to deepen and sustain quality improvements and ultimately to improve outcomes for children and families.

 

The CoP explored questions such as:

  • What are the models for CQI and how is CQI different from program improvement plans? (Both are informed by data, involve established goals and rely on technical assistance to be successful.)  
  • Are there conditions that need to be present? And how do we know if an organization is ready for or already engaged in CQI? 
  • What can be learned from school reform, the health care field, and others who are engaged in CQI using a variety of frameworks and tools to guide improvement efforts, to gain collective impact, and to speed up, spread, or sustain change?  
  • What does CQI look like on the ground? in programs?
  • How can early childhood systems embrace CQI, spreading the adoption of this approach in ways that maximize its potential to foster and sustain improvements in the quality of services, on both program and systems levels? 
  • How is CQI embedded in and supported by professional development?

The CoP met five times via web-based meetings with a consultant facilitator from November 2016 through April 2017. A landing pad was created with resources related to CQI, along with a briefing paper and a pre-conference session at the 2017 QRIS National Meeting. Resources related to all of these activities are on this page.  

CoP members contributed their time, talent and expertise, and without them, the resource treasure chest on this page would not be possible.


The CQI CoP’s Working Definition for Continuous Quality Improvement 

CQI is a process which ensures that organizations and their partners are systemic and intentional about improving services and practices and increasing positive outcomes for children and families. CQI is reflective, cyclical and data-driven and is proactive, not reactive. It goes beyond meeting externally applied regulations and standards and moves the lever for change internally. CQI is most often linked to: organizational culture, a shared vision, values and beliefs. Participants control the process themselves, through shared vision, continuous learning and a dedication to "get better at getting better."