It seems like whenever child care make the news it is for negative reasons. Certainly I am not naive enough to say there aren’t concerns out there related to early care and education programs, and I am supportive of lowering or keeping low the ratio of programs per licensing consultant so that they can better oversee and work with programs at meeting minimum standards. However, I know there are also child care and preschool programs out there providing excellent care and education. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many of them in my work! Where are the news stories about those HIGH QUALITY early childhood programs? I’m guessing those stories don’t cause folks to tune in, but they should!
A study in the journal Child Development shows that HIGH QUALITY child care can benefit children’s (and mom’s) well-being. Another study in Developmental Psychology shows that children that attended HIGH QUALITY programs in the 1970′s are still benefitting! You can read about both studies here.
I emphasize HIGH QUALITY because it makes a real difference. HIGH QUALITY is hard work and looks at many areas including relationships, learning environment, health, and safety. If you are not using an evidence-based tool to assess the level of quality, then quality is totally subjective. Many of us use the Environmental Rating Scale tools to look at a program’s environment objectively. A course helping you learn to look at your own program with “ERS eyes” can be so helpful! Also, many states now have programs helping providers move towards higher quality. In Iowa, our program is called Quality Rating System.
What tools do you use to assess the quality of your program? Do you participate in a program helping you move towards higher quality? If not, why not? To respond, go to http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/quality/. We look forward to hearing from you!