MILLEDGEVILLE — The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is promoting a new quality rating system that goes beyond just babysitting and focuses more on education. The Quality rated assessment is a systemic approach to assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early care and education programs. As of now, participation in the assessment is on a voluntary basis.
According to data from DECAL’s Georgia Quality Initiatives website, there is a total of 942 child care programs in the state of Georgia who are currently participating in Quality Rating.
Quality ratings are awarded to programs that meet defined program standards that go beyond Georgia’s minimum licensing requirements. Each daycare submits a portfolio on how employees are handling curriculum, physical activity and nutrition. The next step is a visit to the site to evaluate the criteria mentioned in the site’s portfolio.
“They come out unannounced and assess you based on three levels of performance, three being the highest and one meaning that you are above the state requirements,” said Kim Renfroe, owner and director of The Learning Safari on Marshall Road.
Learning Safari staff were rated in each age group, from infants to pre-K. The childcare center received a rating of three, the highest rating to obtain. Renfroe felt that participating in the assessment would be beneficial to parents who are considering putting their children in the child care program as well as those who already have kids that attend.
“It’s similar to hotel ratings,” Renfroe said. “You would much rather stay at a five-star hotel than anything below it. Level 3 rating child care facilities let the parent know that their child will receive not only the best care but also the best education.”
Once the assessment was completed, Renfroe received a letter from Gov. Nathan Deal thanking her and her staff for participating in the Quality Rating Initiative. They also received access to a rating report card website where they discovered that the Learning Safari received the highest rating possible.
“We received our certificate and I was very proud of my staff for the excellent job they demonstrated,” Renfroe said.
DECAL invites all eligible childcare programs like Learning Safari to participate in the Quality Rated assessment. It not only provides valuable feedback for parents, but it also gives DECAL an opportunity to provide support to day care centers. DECAL plans to further support programs participating in Quality Rated by implementing tiered reimbursement in 2013 when all quality ratings are published.
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