Step Up to Quality visiting area July 17 and 18

July 16, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — Staff from Step Up to Quality, the quality rating system for child care in the state of Nebraska, will be taking a trip to the western end of the state July 17-18 to educate local child care providers on what Step Up to Quality is and how it can help their programs improve.

Step Up to Quality is a Nebraska Department of Education program put in place to improve the quality of early childhood educators and providers.

The early childhood programs Step Up to Quality supports include licensed family child care homes and child care centers, public school-operated early childhood programs, community preschools and Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

By using the tools supplied by Step Up to Quality, child care providers will be able to provide higher quality care.

Programs that enroll in Step up to Quality have access to coaching, professional development, child care subsidy reimbursement, incentive bonuses and financial support and grants.

On July 17-18, there will be two separate Panhandle Step Up to Quality Roadshows. These roadshows are question-and-answer sessions meant to educate child care providers on what Step Up to Quality is, what it does and clarify any misconceptions about the program.

“People out here are hearing lots of rumors,” said Cindy Molina, independent consultant for early childhood. “(We want people to) ask those questions to get answers on the truth behind it.”

This program has taken off on the eastern end of the state, with over 300 programs incorporating Step Up to Quality, according to Molina, and those working with Step Up to Quality hope to see similar success on the western end.

Because of the popularity of the program in areas like Lincoln and Omaha, some questions have been raised here, and professionals who work closely with the program want to clear that up.

Facilitating the discussions on July 17 and 18 are professionals from the department of education who are knowledgable about the program and can help clarify any discrepancies providers may have about the program.

Once these questions are answered, Step Up to Quality wants to see additional expansion to western Nebraska.

Some child care providers have already made Step Up to Quality a part of their program, including Chadron and Scottsbluff.

“In Chadron, we have four providers who have been rated,” Molina said. “I’m very proud of those providers up there.”

Potentially, after the question-and-answer sessions, more child care providers will choose to make Step Up to Quality a part of their program, continually working towards improvement.

Being a part of this program not only helps improve providers skills, but it also allows parents to see the quality of child care their children are receiving. It gives each of the providers who are a part of the program another layer of credibility to back the quality of their child care services.

Step Up to Quality providers are all listed on the Step Up to Quality website, making it easy for parents to find child care programs working for better quality.

Fifteen people registered for the session in Chadron on July 17, and 19 registered for the July 18 session in Scottsbluff. However, registration is now closed.

To become a part of the program, child care providers must complete orientation, complete the application and enter the director and staff into the record system. This is the first step of the program.

Following that, some training sessions must be completed, including management training, early learning guidelines and safety protocol.

After each step is completed, providers move onto the next step and must complete those tasks.

Step Up to Quality stresses that, although this is a rating system, this is a path for providers to go down. This path shows the public that these providers are working towards providing the best care possible to children, regardless of what step of the path they are on.

To learn more about Step Up to Quality, visit education.ne.gov/StepUpToQuality.

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