Area child care programs accepted into quality improvement program
Posted on The Malone Telegram
January 12, 2016
Onondaga County participates in new quality rating and improvement system for early child care and learning programs
Posted on Syracuse.com by Kathleen Poliquin, The Post-Standard
October 9, 2012
Photos: State Education Commissioner
Posted on timesunion.com
September 6, 2012
Warren County Sheriff Bud York was among a group that asked state legislators this week to allocate funding for a rating system for pre-kindergarten programs.
York is a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a group that has lobbied for state funding for a rating system called the QUALITYstarsNY program.
York told legislators Monday that half of the inmates in Warren County Jail don’t have a high school education, and any program that helps education can prevent crime.
"When I have a $7 million budget in my jail system and have to pay for the education, for the health and welfare, for the dental of all of the people that are incarcerated by judges, I want less people incarcerated. So, if there’s any programs out there that might help do that, I want it done," York was quoted as saying by news service New York Connection.
-- Don Lehman
On Dec. 16, New York state was notified it was not a recipient of $100 million of federal Race To The Top Early Learning Challenge Grant money. New York’s application for the grant focused on establishing a statewide five-star rating and improvement systems for all early education programs called QUALITYstarsNY, standardizing kindergarten assessment and creating a data tracking system to better coordinate children’s services. This setback, although disappointing, has to serve as a wake-up call to our leaders in Albany that we cannot be caught sleeping in the Race To The Top.
Child Care Solutions, the child care resource and referral agency for Onondaga and Cayuga counties, believes we cannot abandon the initiatives set forth in the federal grant application. Although the money would have obviously eased the financial burden of implementing these programs we must keep our eyes on the finish line and continue to move forward. The parents and employers of our state need QUALITYstarsNY to establish a standardized rating system for early education and child care programs. Child care providers and educators also require training and support that will improve the quality of care and learning. QUALITYstarsNY will provide for this. Most importantly, children need high quality early learning experiences so that they will have the tools to be prepared for school and life-long success.
Finding and choosing child care should not be an obstacle course or a guessing game. New York needs to raise the bar and set standards so that parents know what kind of early care their children are receiving. Child care teachers and providers need to elevate their profession to meet higher standards so that all of the children of our state are afforded equal educational opportunities.
"We now know that 75 percent of brain growth and 85 percent of intellect, personality and social skills develop before age 5," said Marsha Basloe, executive director of the Early Care and Learning Council in Albany. "Early learning is key. And while we did not win this grant, our proposal can still serve as the blueprint to ensure our youngest children are getting the quality early learning they need to compete in a 21st century workforce.
Please let your voice be heard in Albany and urge our leaders to continue with the initiatives set forth in the Race To The Top. For the sake of our children and our states economic future, let’s continue toward the finish line.
To learn more about the importance of high quality early learning, go to: www.winningbeginningny.org.
Robinson is Marketing and Development director at Child Care Solutions
New York is competing for $100 million in federal funds to strengthen the education of its youngest children. If the state wins, parents would have access to a comprehensive rating system for daycares and other programs for young children. Teachers in those programs would receive targeted training. And state agencies would coordinate their efforts to better serve young children.
"The results are so conclusive as to what you can achieve with a child at a young age. That’s a whole area of missed opportunity," said Regent Robert M. Bennett. "This is a great opportunity for all of us to rally together at the state and local level to do good things for kids."
Experts say money invested in the early years pays dividends down the road. Most estimates suggest that for every dollar invested before a child turns 5, at least $7 is saved later - on costs such as incarceration, social services and drug rehabilitation.
"Research tells us very clearly that 75 percent of what a child learns, they learn before kindergarten. Nothing parallels what happens to children before they turn 5," said Susan Block, executive director of the Childcare Resource Network. "[Quality programs for young children] is what prevents crime and teen pregnancy and drug abuse."
The Obama administration has made available $500 million for Early Learning Challenge grants, the latest round in its Race to the Top reform initiative.
Each state can qualify for four-year grants of $50 million to $100 million, depending on its relative population of low-income children. New York, along California, Florida and Texas, could be eligible for $100 million. The application deadline is Wednesday.
In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office is coordinating efforts among agencies for the state’s application. "This initiative will ensure New York’s youngest students get the right instruction early on to ensure greater achievement throughout their academic careers," said Joshua Vlasto, a spokesman for the governor. "New York’s proposal will expand access to (early learning) programs, especially for the neediest children, and give them a solid foundation for lifelong learning."
Despite the importance of quality programs for young children, parents in New York currently have access to only limited information that enables them to compare programs.
The Office of Children & Family Services posts a searchable database of daycares that indicates basic information such as size and address, along with recent violations.
But there’s no simple way for parents to compare the quality of programs.
"If I go to a movie, I’m going to open up the Buffalo News and look at your star rating system. That’s for a $12, two-hour investment," Block said. "And for a child’s care, I have nowhere to go for information."
The state recently field tested a rating system called QUALITYstarsNY that would rate programs on a 100-point scale, as well as a five-star scale, based on several categories, such as family engagement, learning environment, and staff qualifications and experience.
Of the 192 programs in the field test - including 16 in Erie County - the average score was 45 points. None earned five stars, according to information posted on the program’s website.
Most of the public schools and daycare centers earned three or four stars, while most smaller programs like those run out of a person’s house earned either one or three stars.
State officials plan to expand the rating system to include all early learning programs in New York if they win the federal grant.
"I believe for us as a state, it’s going to help us have a more uniform understanding and provide us with a format to look at what does quality mean, how do we rate it, and how do we make sure it’s attainable by as many kids as possible," said Mary Lavin, principal of the Early Childhood Center at Windermere Elementary in Amherst and president of the state’s association of prekindergarten administrators.
The state’s application will also include plans for improving the quality of the programs that are available. Staff development would be central to improving programs.
"Parents should come to expect that only the highest-qualified teachers are in front of their children," Bennett said. "We know what works with young children. You’ve got to have a teacher who is eminently qualified from birth through grade two."
The state’s Early Learning Challenge grant application also includes plans to implement a more uniform child assessment system that would evaluate the effectiveness of early learning programs.
And a centralized data system would enable state agencies to better coordinate services for young children. Those familiar with the federal grant program, as well as the state’s application, say the proposed changes have the potential to make a significant difference in the long term.
"This is really a huge affirmation that to make sure every kid is college- and career-ready, we need to start with our youngest learners," Lavin said. "If we overlook that, closing the gap is nearly impossible."
Hurray for the Times Union editorial board’s recommendation in the June 19 editorial, "Still failing after all these years," that it’s time to focus on early education.
The state pours money into quick fixes aimed at K-12 students. These interventions are important but cannot be the only focus.
District superintendents say that the largest achievement gap exists on the first day of kindergarten. According to Harvard’s Jack Shonkoff, from the time of conception to the first day of kindergarten, children’s development progresses at a pace exceeding that of any subsequent stage of life. Cost-benefit analysis studies, such as that conducted by Nobel Laureate James Heckman, found a $12 return on every $1 spent on early childhood education for at-risk children, Why do we wait to invest?
In New York, child care assistance supports children’s early care experiences so that low-income parents can work. Nearly 50 percent of this support, however, is used in legally exempt, unregulated care. Our children in poverty need access and support for licensed, high quality early childhood education, with professionally trained teachers.
Our state has enrolled 45 percent of all eligible 4-year-olds in "universal" pre-kindergarten. We need to invest more wisely in this important program, by allowing districts to use funding for full-day programs and transportation, thereby increasing access.
And we need to pay greater attention to the years before school entry by helping strengthen families with voluntary home visiting.
It’s time to restructure where our resources are allocated to ensure the long-term investment in New York.
Marsha Basloe Early Care & Learning Council
Kate Breslin Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
This letter was written on behalf of the coalition Winning Beginning NY.
Your June 19 editorial, "Still failing after all these years," rightly focuses on the preschool years as a key to increasing high school graduation rates.
By taking advantage of this important development opportunity, children are more likely to be prepared for learning when they start school and therefore more likely to succeed and graduate on time.
Early childhood programs are a good investment. When children succeed in school, they succeed in life and don’t require expensive social programs as adults. They are more likely to be employed and engaged citizens.
Fortunately, a dedicated group of New Yorkers has been working diligently for several years to design an initiative that has the potential to improve young children’s early learning by improving all kinds of programs in centers, schools and homes that children attend before kindergarten. QUALITYstarsNY has been field-tested recently in a dozen communities across the state, including in Albany County.
QUALITYstarsNY offers a clear, organized way to assess, improve and communicate the quality of New York’s early care and education programs to families choosing programs for their children. Programs can earn ratings of one to five stars. Support will be available to help programs improve and star ratings will be easily accessible to families (http://www.qualitystarsny.org).
We can close the achievement gap at kindergarten entry and reap the rewards of near-universal graduation rates, if New York is willing to invest in young children.
President, Early Childhood Policy Research
Statewide Events Call for QUALITYstarsNY, a Five-Star Rating System for Early Care and Learning Programs
Posted on readMedia by Citizen Action of NY
April 13, 2011
Show Full Article | Download Article (PDF)
ALBANY, NY (04/13/2011)(readMedia)-- With the click of a mouse or a tap on a smart phone, it takes seconds to find a five-star restaurant or movie. But New York State has no system for rating the quality of a child’s early care and learning program - until now.
QUALITYstarsNY, a Quality Rating and Improvement System, would bring such a system to New York. More than two dozen other states already have such initiatives in place, which create research-based uniform standards for early care and learning programs. New York’s would apply to all types of care - in centers, private homes and schools. Piloted by more than 200 early care and learning programs across New York State for the past year, many participants are now inviting state lawmakers, parents and others to learn more about QUALITYstarsNY. They will be unveiling a new video and explaining how QUALITYstarsNY helped improve the quality of care in their programs, starting during this year’s "Week of the Young Child" (April 11 - 15, 2011).
"The education that our children receive from birth to age 5 is critically important to their opportunities for success in the future," said Cadija Tibbs, a working mother from New York City. "QUALITYstarsNY will help New York’s parents pick the best early learning program for their child, and ensure that those programs have the information and resources they need to offer quality learning opportunities for our kids."
"Consumers are used to star ratings - and if we can do it for restaurants, hotels and movies, then we can do it for our children," said Victory Lynn Riedy, Ed.M., executive director of Club Fed Child Care Center in Albany. "Other states have similar rating systems in place and QUALITYstarsNY is modeled on those successful systems. Designed to give parents access to uniform information, it also ensures programs get the tools and support they need to create stronger learning environments."
During this year’s national "Week of the Young Child," early care and learning programs will be unveiling a new video about QUALITYstarsNY. It features an early care program, parent and business leader explaining why New York State needs a quality rating an improvement system. The parent describes a three-month process of visiting many programs before picking one for her son.
To watch the video, visit: http://www.winningbeginningny.org/video/qualitystarsny.php
At each event (listed below), programs will share their experience, being part of a year-long field test of the QUALITYstarsNY project. State lawmakers, parents and other community leaders will view the video and find out how the QUALITYstarsNY program helped that particular early care and learning program strengthen the quality of their programs.
Over the past decade, research has determined that 90% of brain development occurs before age five - making the early years a critical learning period. And while QUALITYstarsNY is expected to cost several million dollars to implement over a 3-5 year period, every dollar invested in early care and learning in New York State generates $1.86 in spending in local economies. States with quality rating and improvement systems in place also report a more targeted, cost-effective use of limited education resources.
"New York needs to catch up with other states and give parents and policymakers this critical new tool," said Nancy Kolben, Executive Director of the Center for Children’s Initiatives and a co-convener of the statewide WinningBeginningNY coalition. "This system will help the state invest more wisely and effectively."
"Given the significant economic benefits from investment in quality early care and learning programs, it’s clear that now is the time to implement QUALITYstarsNY," said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York. "Our kids need us to make the right choices now so that they’ll have every chance at success in the future, by being ready for kindergarten, college, and a career."
QUALITYstarsNY events are planned in the following communities:
In addition to the above events, copies of the new video are being sent to state lawmakers, state education officials and Governor Cuomo to build awareness and support for QUALITYstarsNY.
The new video and events are sponsored by WinningBeginningNY, the state’s early care and learning coalition and Citizen Action of New York, through the support of the Child Care and Early Education Fund.
BETHLEHEM -- Jared Marsh taught addition and experimentation through making oatmeal raisin cookies as a group of 3-year-olds jostled to get their fingers in the dough.
It wasn’t just a baking lesson. It was a science experiment, an exploration of what happens when a group of different things are combined to make something new. The children, without even thinking about it, were learning how to share and how to take turns.
"They’re little sponges; they’re developing and they’re curious," said Marsh, a head teacher at Bethlehem Preschool. "It is the best time to expose them to these ideas and concepts and building blocks they’ll use as they grow."
Early learning is increasingly viewed as the key to academic success in later life, particularly for economically disadvantaged students up to age 6 who frequently begin school behind their peers. Most of the state’s 1.5 million children younger than 6 who are cared for outside the home are in private programs. In the past decade, the state has rapidly expanded its funding for early learning programs in public school districts.
But education advocates are warning that any expansion or even maintenance of existing programs is at risk now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to chop at least a billion dollars of school aid out of next year’s state budget. That can have dire consequences later, advocates warn, because studies show that 90 percent of brain development happens in the first five years of life.
About 450 of the state’s 700 school districts now participate in prekindergarten programs, but the funding freeze has meant that no others can join. Most of the children served in the public programs are from low-income or working class neighborhoods, according to Winning Beginning NY, a statewide coalition of early learning groups.
The state’s $1.4 billion reduction in school aid last year is expected to be matched or eclipsed in Cuomo’s proposed budget. That means early education advocates will be left fighting for ever-dwindling resources with representatives from every other piece of the education pipeline.
State lawmakers passed universal prekindergarten legislation in 1997, which provided programs for 4-year-olds in the public districts. Since that time, the state’s investment has grown to $414 million. Prekindergarten programs now serve 100,000 children, including hundreds of students in the Albany and Schenectady districts, the only local schools to offer full-day programs. Another 120,000 4-year-olds are waiting for seats, according to Winning Beginning NY.
"We need to make the investment in early education because we will continue to play catch-up if we don’t," said Marsha Basloe, executive director of Early Care and Learning, a etwork of child care resource and referral agencies.
A primary issue is that the state lacks the ability to assess program quality and student progress, which makes it easier to expand and support effective programs, Basloe said. A group of early education advocates from across the state is calling on Cuomo to support early learning programs so that more New York students begin school ready to learn. They are also promoting QUALITYstarsNY, a rating system in use in 13 counties across New York that centralizes regulation of programs and helps parents determine the best program for their children. It also offers support to improve their ratings.
Thirty states already offer a single standard measure for all programs, so New York is late to the game. There are 1.5 million children under age 6 in New York cared for by an outside provider in private and public programs, said Patricia Skinner, executive director of the Capital District Child Care Council.
She said cuts to early childhood will mean higher costs later in the form of remedial education, health care, welfare, unemployment and incarceration.
NEW YORK - Movie-lovers look for a four-star review by a film critic. Gourmets search for five-star restaurants. Soon, parents seeking a good preschool or child-care center may have a similar quality-rating system.
Amparo Sadler, Central Islip, says her two-year-old granddaughter would benefit fromsuch a system - like one that recently underwent field testing around New York - if it were to go into effect, as hoped, in 2012.
"It’s a great idea to let people know where a pre-school is - what level they’re at. I think it’s a marvelous idea. I don’t know why somebody didn’t think about this years ago."
The concept has actually been under development for more than six years in New York and more than 20 other states. In New York, the voluntary quality rating and improvement system is called QUALITYstarsNY. Backers of the system are concerned that state funding for it is endangered, as Albany struggles with a $9-billion deficit.
Mark Manas, a retired New York City schoolteacher, says not only would parents be helped by a standard rating system, but child-care providers would, too.
"It would lead schools and programs of lesser quality to aspire to raise themselves up and get into this program, in order to get some funding and attract more parents. If you have strong incentives and controls and regulations, then you’ll be providing the right services. It’s a win-win all around."
Last year, some 240 family child-care homes, Head Start programs, pre-Ks and child care centers in 13 New York communities took part in a field test of the rating system. One of its leading backers, Dana Friedman, compares it - in a broad sense - to rating restaurants.
"Essentially, we’re trying to create a Zagat’s for child care. Not only will there be indicators that programs can use to improve their quality, but there will also be more information for parents."
She says the results of the field testing are being evaluated and refinements are being considered. A 2012 rollout is anticipated, assuming the necessary funding falls into place.
Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY
As new leaders of statewide organizations dedicated to increasing the quality of care and education for children from the prenatal period to age 8, we found it refreshing to see Ron Haskins’ and Steve Barnett’s Oct. 13 viewpoint, "Scrutiny for Head Start."
While the national program holds immeasurable promise, it is not fully meeting its potential to serve the great needs of children in poverty. Evaluation has determined that not all Head Start programs provide children with basic tools for the future. Their failure to do so has a consequence -- for children, parents, the next generation of workers and our communities.
Quality matters and President Barack Obama espouses accountability. He supports the reassessment of underperforming programs and endorses use of a rating instrument to evaluate performance, similar to the quality rating and improvement systems in place for early care and learning programs in nearly 30 states.
In New York, we are working to fully implement a QUALITYstarsNY rating system, now being field-tested in 13 communities. Such a system looks to support providers as they work to raise standard of care. Every parent wants the highest quality care for his or her child and we must ensure that access.
We hope that QUALITYstarsNY will stimulate efforts that will focus on program standards, early childhood workforce development and consumer education.
Early Care and Learning Council
President and CEO
Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
QUALITYstarsNY plan to rate early childhood sites would help kids and their parents
The Post-Standard Editorial Board visit site: syracuse.com
October 4, 2010
Show Full Article | Download Article (PDF)
Whether you’re looking for a five-star hotel, a four-star restaurant or a "thumbs up" Saturday night movie, there’s no shortage of reviews that rate their quality.
But if you’re shopping for a preschool or daycare for your child, you’re on your own. More likely than not, you’d rely on a word-of-mouth recommendation from a neighbor or friend.
That would change with QualityStarsNY, a system of giving "star" ratings to early childhood providers. It’s being field-tested in 13 communities around the state, including Onondaga County, in sites that run the gamut from at-home care to Head Start to nursery schools to school-based pre-kindergarten.
New York state already regulates these programs. Parents can feel reasonably confident that if their child care site is licensed, their kids are being cared for in a safe environment. But licensing says very little about whether children are being well-prepared socially, emotionally and intellectually for the years of schooling ahead of them.
Peggy Liuzzi, executive director of Child Care Solutions, gives an example. State regulations on administering medicine to children fill nine pages, but regulations on curriculum fill just one page.
QualityStarsNY would start all licensed providers at one star. Then they could earn points based on the learning environment, parent engagement, staff qualifications, and leadership and management.
With a rating system in place, early childhood providers would see a path to improvement and would get the training and technical support to get there. Consumers would have a rational basis for choosing a provider, instead of a gut feeling or word of mouth.
But let’s not lose sight of the bottom line: our children.
"Quality improvement leads to better outcomes," said Anne Mitchell, co-founder of the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance, who has studied star rating systems in other states. In the states with the longest track records, students are performing better in school, Mitchell said. In Onondaga County, the United Way’s Success By Six program has been beating the drum for better early childhood education. QualityStars NY shows the way to improving the patchwork system we have. What remains is for the holders of the purse strings in Albany to realign current funding streams to take the system from the testing phase to the implementation phase.
A new ratings system is changing child care Central New York.
Child Care Solutions is testing a system that will enable parents to preview childcare centers much like hotels, restaurants, or movies. The agency is testing the system, called Quality Stars NY, right now.
The system evaluates daycares, nursery schools, and pre-Kindergarten programs according to a five-star system.
Shining Stars Child Care in Liverpool is among the centers participating in the test phase.
In addition to helping parents determine whether or not they want to entrust their child’s care to a center, it offers the individual centers goals to which they can aspire.
According to Peggy Liuzzi, parents often rely on the subjective reactions of their peers to various centers. There simply isn’t a source for objective data on any given center.
"What parents ask us, often, is just tell me which is the best one and we really don’t have a good tool to do that. I think parents really want to know," Liuzzi said. "And they do depend on word of mouth and they depend on programs their neighbors use and their family use but that I think that people are looking for a standard that they really could trust and would be able to know more about what’s happening at a program. And this is a really easy way to communicate that information to the parents."
Finally, some good news for our state’s crime fighters: New York has been chosen as a Race to the Top state and will receive additional federal funds for education reform and innovation.
While we in law enforcement spend every day tracking down, arresting and prosecuting dangerous criminals, we also know that to win the fight against crime, we must prevent kids from becoming criminals in the first place. New federal education support from Race to the Top could help us do just that.
We know that school success is central to keeping kids out of trouble. More than 70 percent of the people in New York’s prisons have not graduated from high school and do not have the education and skills they need to get and hold a decent job. With no job and little education, too many of our young people turn to crime.
New York’s Race to the Top plan wisely includes early education and pre-kindergarten programs as a key to improving academic performance and boosting high school graduation rates. As numerous studies point out, children who attend high-quality early learning programs are much more likely to succeed in school and less likely to turn to crime than similar children who do not have access to these programs.
But there is one important catch to consider as we work to reform New York’s system of education. The only way we are going to get significant returns on our early learning investments – including a reduction in serious crime – is to make sure the programs are of the highest quality. The pre-K programs that produce the best results emphasize the role of parents as their child’s most important teachers and provide important resources to families to help them meet the needs of their children.
High-quality early learning programs have well-compensated and well-trained teachers, and provide a safe and age-appropriate environment that fosters learning and allows children to practice social skills such as sharing, taking turns and following directions.
Presently, New York state does not have uniform standards or a system to evaluate and improve early education programs. We are lagging behind. Nearly half the states across the nation have implemented a Quality Rating Improvement System that sets universal standards for early learning settings and creates a structure for accountability.
This is why law enforcement leaders across the state are calling on the Legislature and governor to implement a Quality Rating Improvement System like QUALITYstarsNY.
Currently, New York is field-testing QUALITYstarsNY at 240 different early-education sites in 13 counties across the state. QUALITYstarsNY would set clear quality standards for early education programs and create a roadmap for improvement. Besides providing the resources and technical assistance needed to improve programs, it would also give parents reliable information on how to choose the best program for their child.
If we are to succeed in our race to the top, we need to make certain that every New York state child has a chance to arrive at kindergarten healthy and eager to learn. The sad reality is that kids who are behind when they start school rarely, if ever, catch up. Providing high quality pre-K programs is not only good for our children, it is good for all of us; it will help make our communities safer in the long run.