Culture of Continuous Learning (CCL) Project: A Breakthrough Series Collaborative for Improving Child Care and Head Start Quality, 2016 - 2019

Project Overview

The purpose of this project is to explore how child care and Head Start programs can improve the quality of services received by young children, while institutionalizing continuous quality improvement activities. The project will design and assess the feasibility of implementing a specific approach to continuous quality improvement (CQI), the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC), to promote the uptake and success of evidence-based practices around social and emotional learning (SEL) in both child care and Head Start settings.

The BSC is a unique method aimed at improving the uptake, sustainability, and spread of evidence-based practices. A BSC includes five key elements:

  1. the Change Framework
  2. Multi-Level Inclusive Teams
  3. Expert Faculty
  4. a Shared Learning Environment
  5. the Model for Improvement

BSC teams meet regularly and include program directors, teachers, and parents. The BSC groups are designed to create a shared learning environment in which CQI strategies are used to test research-based practices and make adjustments based on short term, informal data collection. The goal is to influence changes in the culture, climate, structures, and leadership within ECE settings as well as the knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes of the practitioners participating in the BSC.

In 2018, a BSC focused on supporting children’s SEL within eight ECE settings (4 Head Start, 4 child care) in an East Coast, urban area will begin. A study to assess the feasibility of implementing a BSC will be conducted alongside implementation to better understand whether a BSC can successfully improve SEL practices in ECE programs. The study uses an embedded case study design and data from multiple sources at multiple time points, across all phases of implementation of the BSC to understand the organizational and individual characteristics that relate to feasibility, and the supports within the BSC that are associated with progress towards improvement.

OPRE has contracted Child Trends, with subcontracts to the University of Massachusetts-Boston, JRA Consulting, Ltd., and the Center for the Study of Social Policy, to conduct the project.

The points of contact are Ivelisse Martinez-Beck and Nina Philipsen Hetzner.

  • Culture of Continuous Learning Project: A Literature Review of the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC)

    Published: April 26, 2018

    Promoting the quality of early care and education (ECE) is a central goal of state and national initiatives aimed at supporting children’s early learning and healthy development. Given these investments, program administrators, policymakers and researchers alike are interested in understanding how quality improvement activities can best target changes in practice that will support children’s development and can be sustained over time across a wide range of programs.

    Advances in the science of improvement offer ECE a new framework for thinking about approaches to quality improvement. While some of the specific methods derived from improvement science have generated dialogue and investments in pockets of the ECE field, these methods are not yet widespread in practice.

  • Culture of Continuous Learning Project: A Breakthrough Series Collaborative for Improving Child Care and Head Start Quality

    Published: March 28, 2017

    In an effort to better understand how child care and Head Start programs can improve the quality of services received by young children, ACF is conducting a study about institutionalizing a culture of continuous learning within programs. This project description provides an overview of the Culture of Continuous Learning project, which tests the Breakthrough Series Collaborative methodology as an approach to changing program culture...

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