As many of you may have heard, this is an extremely exciting time for Connecticut with regard to early childhood care and education. Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Connecticut’s Early Childhood Planning Director, has been working with her team, Mara Siladi and Carlota Schechter, to create a plan for an early childhood system that increases access to and quality of early childhood education for all of Connecticut’s children. To better understand the needs of families and child care providers alike, the Planning Team conducted “Listening Sessions” in communities across Connecticut, one of which was held with All Our Kin providers in early November. Providers shared many important and useful insights with Mara Siladi at the session. In the e-mail below, family child care provider Viola Waldo further articulates her thoughts about how to improve the quality of family child care in Connecticut:
“It is critical that family daycare is included in the pilot program if it is to be considered a valuable resource to the community. To exclude it would minimize the value of family daycare for children and families and therefore de-value family daycare and family day care providers.
As you know quality care is very important to me. I have worked in a Head Start program for more than 30 years. We also have a licensed family daycare in our home. I started the West Haven Family Daycare Provider Network in response to many licensed family daycare providers in West Haven talking to me about how isolating it was for providers. I also learned how very different each home was.
The licensing requirements for family daycare in CT are very minimal. I believe this is why there is so much disparity in the quality of family day care homes. A quality rating system would be a way to develop standards based upon developmentally appropriate practices and provide a more uniform standard of care in family daycare homes. The result would be a more level playing field for family daycare providers competing with centers and school readiness programs.
I had the opportunity to visit programs in North Carolina who operated under the “STAR” quality rating system. The STAR system assigns points which results in a 1 to 5 star rating.
I spoke to both large and small program center staff as well as licensed family day care providers. According to the folks I spoke to, programs earning only 1 or 2 stars were provided the opportunity to apply for funding, training, technical assistance, and materials and supplies, to improve to 3 stars.
However, once programs reached 3 stars all financial support was withdrawn making it difficult for program to maintain the improvements they had made.
An integral part of a quality rating system is the ability to support programs to achieve an acceptable quality rating and then continue to support programs to maintain or improve their quality rating. Another important component is a tiered payment system based on quality rating through C4K’s. Reward programs for achieving and maintaining quality standards by increasing their reimbursement rate. This would be powerful incentive for compliance.
Of course I understand what a monumental endeavor this is and that many people have different ideas about what the QRIS should look like. I hope that just as we know intentional teaching is purposeful resulting in positive outcomes for children, intentional planning should be used in the development of the QRIS to allow every child to have a quality childcare experience. A quick fix or Band-Aid approach is not what children or families in CT need or what providers want.”
Thank you, Viola, for sharing your experience and perspective with the Early Childhood Planning Team and with All Our Kin.