Qualistar Colorado is always asking the question: What does quality look like when it comes to early childhood education?
Through two stories we produced with Qualistar, we captured quality in the smiling faces of small children who exude large amounts of self-confidence, proud parents who are wow’d by their children’s curiousity and the committed teachers who bring their best to the classroom every single day.
Quality also stands out.. when we hear the teachers, administration at the centers and the leaders at Qualistar say… more needs to be done. Quality matters.
Qualistar Colorado is always striving to ensure quality so that all children start kindergarten ready to succeed. However, fewer than half of 5-year-old children from low-income homes enter school ready to learn.
Qualistar is working hard to make a difference for the 150,000 children who are currently in the 4,200 licensed child care centers in Colorado.
Qualistar has a team that spreads out across the state, visiting centers, assessing their needs and awarding grants to improve both indoor and outdoor learning spaces.
For the teaching professionals, Qualistar offers training that generates innovative curriculum and creative approaches to teaching.
“Because of Qualistar, we took the initiative to seek out quality for professional development,” Stephanie Olson said. She along with her husband Roger own and operate Kids’ Castle out of their home in Aurora. “We take it seriously. They’ve helped us a lot with our quality in our own professional development all the way to how we design our classroom.”
Qualistar also offers scholarships to teachers so that they can further their education. Cheryl Gould has set the example for continuing education among her colleagues at Rocky Mountain Children’s Discovery Center which she co-founded in Cañon City more than 20 years ago. Qualistar has awarded her its first ever “Early Childhood Professional of the Year” award.
“This is such an important job and we need to make a concerted effort as a state to recruit good people, train them well, compensate them fairly and retain them in the field,” Gould said. “Our children deserve high quality experiences and well-prepared supported teachers.”
“Children who have had quality early learning experiences are more likely to be reading at third grade,” Qualistar President & CEO Kathryn Harris said. “They are more likely to graduate from high school. They are less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system. Are less likely to be on social support services and more likely to be contributing members of society.”
Qualistar started this movement to make all early learning centers high quality back in the early 2000s. Their momentum is building.
“With 90% of brain development occurring before a child enters kindergarten, the stakes are high,” Harris said. “We strive for quality for every child, in ever setting.”