Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Tami Havener doesn't collect stamps, but she'll hang on to the one given to her and Discovery Learning Center this week.
Educare Colorado, a nonprofit group dedicated to enhancing the development of young children throughout the state, awarded a four-star rating -- its highest -- to the Steamboat Springs child care center in its newly released ratings report of more than 100 state child-care providers.
"It's like a stamp of approval from a nationally respected group," said Havener, Discovery's executive director. "It's very exciting. The teachers were thrilled."
Educare released its ratings report Wednesday after spending the past year evaluating child-care providers across the state. Stacy Baum, vice president of marketing and development for Educare, said only 104 of the evaluated providers chose to have their ratings included in the report.
Most of the participating child-care providers received their ratings last year, but Educare waited to release the information publicly until this week, in part to allow each provider to improve their quality.
"We didn't want to hang anyone out to dry," Baum said. "At the end of the day, the goal really is to improve quality."
Three other Routt County providers received ratings from Educare. The Laurel Street School and Holy Name Preschool each received three stars, and Hayden home child-care provider Julie Redmond earned two stars.
The ratings system, said to be the first of its kind in Colorado, evaluates a provider based on learning environment, family partnerships, training and education of staff, adult-to-child ratios and accreditation. The ratings are determined after in-person observations of child-care facilities by trained Educare evaluators and an assessment of detailed information, including family surveys, provided by each facility.
All four Routt County providers with published ratings scored well in the learning environment, family partnerships and adult-to-child ratio areas. The lowest scores for all four centers came from either a lack of national accreditation and/or levels of staff training and education.
Kim Kueber, director of Holy Name Preschool, said the ratings report is a benefit to parents, who can educate themselves on the quality of child-care providers, and to the centers, which now have a detailed outside analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.
Educare provided each participating provider with a detailed evaluation packet complete with specific recommendations for improving quality. The ratings will be updated annually, and Educare hopes to triple the number of published ratings within the next year.
The costs for local providers to participate in the ratings program were covered by a grant from the Colorado Department of Human Services, said Renee Donahue, director of First Impressions of Routt County. The Yampa Valley Community Foundation provided grants to the participating providers to help improve their quality.
Routt County is home to 10 licensed child-care centers and 22 home providers. Other county providers participated in the ratings program but chose not to have their ratings published, Donahue said.
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