We know from research that the first five years of a child’s life are incredibly important. The brain is still being formed, and we have the chance to impact a kid’s whole life by building a strong foundation. One of the best places for public health to get involved is through child care. At ADHS, the Office of Child Care Licensing and Public Health Prevention partnered to springboard Empower. This educational incentive encouraged physical activity and nutrition while helping programs with licensing fees. First Things First has also been working to improve care at child care centers.
In 2009, First Things First launched Quality First – the first statewide voluntary quality improvement and rating system for some programs serving children from birth through five. The idea is to have kids ready to begin school safe, healthy, and ready to succeed. Last month, they moved the program to the next level- approving the Quality First Star Rating System. The new Quality First Rating Scale will let parents easily know how a program ranks by the number of stars. For example if a program is a “1 Star” – it demonstrates a commitment to quality beyond licensing requirements- while a “5 Star” has more teachers per student that our licensing requirements, more highly qualified staff and curriculum that aligns with state early education standards. Quality First also has financial incentives for programs to participate and there are scholarships for workers to continue their education and grants or bonuses to help pay for licensing fees.