When hundreds of early-childhood experts met in the nation's capital last week, the issues they discussed could help lay a stronger foundation of learning and success for children in Pennsylvania.
The national meeting of the Build Initiative's "Quality Rating and Improvement System" (QRIS) aimed to build upon systems in place in states such as Pennsylvania that provide a rating of child-care providers. In Pennsylvania, it's called Keystone Stars.
Maureen Murphy, director of the Pennsylvania Key, which partners with the national Build Initiative, said QRIS answers important questions about child-care providers:
"What are the qualifications of the staff? What is going on in terms of reading activity? What kinds of supports do you have if there's a problem with a child?"
Murphy says Keystone Stars has found solid support in the state.
"We've been very fortunate in Pennsylvania because, over the past 12 years, there has been consistent support on the state level for investments in early-childhood education," she said. "We have also been very fortunate because we have foundations to improve quality and provide that support."
Murphy said she hopes to see more early child-care providers in the state shoot for the stars.
"We have about 47 percent of our child-care providers now participating in Keystone Stars, which in Pennsylvania is a voluntary program," she said. "So, we want to continue to increase those numbers and we want to increase the quality levels."
Pennsylvania Key estimates that there are approximately 730,000 children in Pennsylvania ages 5 and under, and that roughly 40 percent of them are considered low-income. Eligible child-care programs in the state receive financial incentives and technical assistance in exchange for achieving higher levels of quality early child care.
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