MILLEDGEVILLE — A parent of three young children Ashley Brady wanted to ensure her boys were provided with a top-notch learning experience from quality teachers, so she decided to enroll them at St. Stephen’s Day School.
The local child care learning center is three star Quality Rated in the new voluntary early education rating system.
“To know that you’re doing everything you can as a parent to have your children in a school that is Quality Rated just makes you feel so reassured that they will have a good foundation so they will be ready to start school and they’re going to be great in society,” Brady said. “My oldest is in kindergarten, one child is already here and another starts in May. We were already started at St. Stephen’s before getting Quality Rated, but it just reassured me that it is an awesome place.”
The Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) hosted a tour of St. Stephen’s Day School Friday as a way to allow local community leaders and education officials the opportunity to learn more about the school’s new Quality Rated program. Officials in attendance included representatives from GEEARS, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), Child Care Resource and Referral Agency of Central Georgia at Macon and Georgia College.
“We’re excited for the work [St. Stephen’s Day School] has done and to show off what a quality program looks like,” GEEARS Executive Director Mindy Binderman said after Friday’s tour. “They are committed to higher levels of quality learning and continued learning. Our goal is to encourage families and providers to learn about Quality Rated and show off their great centers in the process.”
Quality Rated is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early education and school-age care programs. Similar to rating systems for other service industries like restaurants and hotels, Quality Rated uses a star rating system to indicate early care and education programs that meet standards exceeding the state’s minimum licensing requirements.
“With nearly 6,000 licensed programs in Georgia, about 1,400 are participating in the state, so we have a lot of work to do. The goal is to have each and every one of the 6,000 programs embrace the continued quality for education,” said Keith Bostick, deputy commissioner for programs at DECAL. “We recognize that these efforts take multiple partners and strong partnerships in the public and private setting to move this message forward and getting things implemented to sustain this movement. One effort is to move away from the notion that this is just babysitting; there is intentional learning going on in enriching environments. We have to professionalize the industry.”
Among the more than 200 Quality Rated centers in the state, St. Stephen’s Day School, Learning Safari and Little Caterpillars are all three-star Quality Rated programs.
“People want their children to learn, be safe and happy. We want community leaders to learn about the Quality Rated program so that the end goal is for parents to know that this is here and they have a right to know what their child’s care and center is doing. Parents need to be educated to know what quality looks like and know that there are resources available to do it,” said Martha Robert, director of St. Stephen’s Day School. “We would love to give a tour, talk to families about the importance of early childhood education and how to choose a place for their child. We want to present ourselves to families and let them know that we have something very special.”
For more information about quality rated, call 877-ALL-GAKIDS, or visit www.qualityrated.org.
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