Iowa State University experts says a child care ratings system implemented in the state in July is slowing moving ahead. Susan Hegland in the department of human development and family studies at I-S-U says the system rates child care providers on a five star system with five being the top rating.
She says a lot of programs are going through the training and getting ready for the assessment of their programs rather slowly because as they use it as a training process to get ready. Hegland says the centers are trying to decide the level they want to achieve. Hegland says it’s like deciding if they want to be a two star for five star restaurant. She says providers are looking at what’s involved, the cost and what the clients are willing to pay for in deciding the level they want to attain without tearing down and starting over.
Hegland says the ratings begin with one star being the very basic registration — then two stars a provider begins assessing their program. Hegland says three stars means the provider has begun training to meet the needs, you’ve had an on-site health and safety consultation. Four and five stars includes providers who have “well qualified, well trained staff”, the director has been trained, the program may’ve gone through an accreditation process by a national organization.
Hegland says the four and five star programs also show they have the educational materials needed for kids. Hegland says her role has been to see that the materials and staff are being used properly. She says they need an on-site observation to validate that the education materials are available and accessible for adults to use and interact with children, and I-S-U focuses on those evaluations.
Hegland says ensuring that the teachers at daycare are teaching, and the children are learning, is important. Hegland says you can have the best qualified teachers in the world, but “if they’re not interacting in a warm, nurturing, stimulating way with children to help them learn, then everything else is irrelevant.”
One of the experts from North Carolina who helped develop the ratings system is visiting Iowa State to give a lecture tonight (Tuesday) on the ratings system.