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Let’s Talk…Quality

April 19th, 2012

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 journalĀ 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!

Malisa

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  1. Natalie Welter
    | #1

    Thanks Malisa for the reminder to acknowledge all of the excellent care and education that is being provided in our early care and education environments. I too am fortunate to be able to visit many programs and meet with many teachers and providers in my day-to-day work.

    I would also like to acknowledge all of the hard work that many preschool teachers and administrators are doing to meet quality preschool program standards such as the Iowa Quality Preschool Program Standards (IQPPS). These professionals go above and beyond to make their environments safe, healthy, and caring. In addition, they provide excellent learning environments to support children as they meet learning standards and prepare for future educational success. Most of the teachers in our preschool settings have worked day and night during the past few years to implement these standards as well as new curriculum and assessment that supports this criteria.

    Thanks to everyone for all you do to support our young children!

  2. | #2

    I have thought the same thing about the lack of news stories about all of the quality childcare that is out there. It seems that whenever a childcare facility is in the news I am cringing at the story. I went through the Childnet series a year ago and earlier this year I went through the FCCERS class (Malisa – you were a great teacher!). I learned more than I could have imagined at these. I have also taken many one evening courses over the years. Some of these I only took because I needed a certain amount of hours of classes, but I always ended up learning things I didn’t know before. The most important and fun part of taking these classes is actually applying what I learned in my childcare setting.

  3. Sheri Jensen
    | #3

    Malisa, I have been on the QRS for 4 years and I am finding that the PR is just not there for the Quality programs. I have gone to many trainings, bettered my child care enironmentally, professionally and still have come up with the same thoughts; “Where is the recognition for the Quality Programs”?
    Unless the ‘word’ gets out; Some major PR is invested in the QRS, I think we are going to lose the impact of the QRS. We need to have there be more than sharing with the parents. If the QRS does not stay in the forfront of the news, I think all we will continue to hear is the “cringing stories” as Chris stated. There are Quality programs out there and they need to take presidence over the negativity that we hear so much about. PR is going to enhance the QRS, not hinder it. There are some very valued Quality Programs and they need to be “Over the Top” recognized.
    Respectfully~

  4. Malisa Rader
    | #4

    Hi Natalie,

    Thanks for reminding us of another quality standard offered by our state through the Department of Education – QPPS! Providers interested in learning more can visit http://educateiowa.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=681&Itemid=1571

    Malisa

  5. Malisa Rader
    | #5

    Chris,

    You bring up some interesting points that I want to note. The professional development trainings that you shared were so beneficial to you were Childnet and FCCERS – both series classes rather than one evening classes. And you end with sharing that the impact comes when we actually apply what we learn!! Research tells us that when we learn things over a period of time with an opportunity to put that skill into practice, reflect on the knowledge, and share with colleagues then we are more likely to make a long-term change for the better to our classroom/program. This is not to say we can’t learn some good information or activities in a “one-shot” course, but it is just not as likely to have real impactful change. In our busy lives, I hope we as professionals will take the time needed to enroll in these series classes, reflect on our current practices and the quality improvements we can make, work with others to resolve the challenges we face (change is not easy!), and then strive for an excellent level of care and education in whatever environment we are in – home, center, or school. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Malisa Rader
    | #6

    P.S. Thanks for the kind words about me facilitating the FCCERS class. I really do enjoy leading Environmental Rating Scale classes because I get to celebrate the strengths of what participants are already doing, be encouraging as they consider possibilities, as well as read about the improvements they are making. :)

  7. Malisa Rader
    | #7

    Sheri,

    You get an “amen” from me!! What ideas do you (and others) have for “over the top” recognition of programs as they participate in the QRS system as stepping stones to quality improvement?

    Malisa

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