Step Up to Quality Celebrates 2nd Anniversary

In 2013, the Nebraska Legislature advanced LB507, which initiated the state’s early childhood quality rating and improvement system. The goal of Step Up to Quality is to improve early care and education quality for young children and increase positive child outcomes to close the achievement gap. Participating child care programs are eligible for professional development and training through coaching, as well as financial supports and recognition. Over the next year, Step Up to Quality also will focus on informing parents in measurable terms about how to identify quality programming when making decisions regarding their family’s early care and education needs.

Step Up to Quality launched two years ago and boy have we been busy!! The team consists of a Director, Program Coordinator, Coach Specialist, Quality Program Specialist and Rating Specialist. In addition, the department contracts with early childhood consultants for coaching, observing and rating. 

We offer an online orientation, as well as traditional live Step Up to Quality orientations across the state. More than 800 people have participated in orientation training! The Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Records System (NECPRS), which tracks participation and progress in Step Up to Quality, continues to evolve, offering enhancements for friendly intuitive applications for users. Currently nearly 300 programs have begun their Step Up to Quality journey. NECPRS also creates a registry of early childhood professionals and tracks their professional development. To date, nearly 3,000 users have created individual profile accounts. As of July 2016, there are approximately 100 programs rated at a Step 1, 36 programs rated at a Step 2, 33 programs rated at a Step 3, 2 Step 4 programs and one Step 5 program!

Programs are eligible for coaching support once they have achieved Step 2. Coaching is optional, but the overwhelming majority of participating programs request the opportunity to work with a coach.

To confirm Step Up to Quality is on track to fulfill its purpose, First Five Nebraska partnered with APA Consulting to conduct a multi-year evaluation, resulting in some positive findings. We learned from participating programs that 76% of those who tapped into quality improvement supports believe that the professional coach was either useful or very useful. Those who have not yet received these supports anticipate coaching will be significantly useful in improving their programs.

In late 2015 a marketing firm was hired to develop and implement a statewide communications and public engagement effort to create awareness as well as recruit program participation, and planning events are under way.

It’s been an exciting journey over the past two years and our program continues to evolve. It’s important to remember that Nebraska’s Quality Rating Improvement System is a path to high-quality care and education. Creating high-quality programs is an ongoing process and we are proud of those who are committed to this important and worthwhile mission.

We are here to help. We are all in this together because it's the right thing to do for Nebraska’s children and their future.

Check our website for updated information.

Check us out on Facebook at Nebraska Step Up to Quality. Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ to help us get the word out!

Call or email with questions at 844-807-5712 or

Lauri Cimino
Director, Nebraska Step Up to Quality
Nebraska Department of Education

Posted July 07, 2016 in General
nebraska step up to quality,
Penny Gildea
July 22, 2016

This is an informative article about a wonderful program. The children and families in Nebraska will all benefit from higher quality programs. The early childhood profession is growing and changing and getting better all the time. An early childhood professional does hard work everyday and deserves the utmost respect. Step Up to Quality is the right program at the right time. Keep up the great work Step Up to Quality team!!

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