June 27, 2013 -Marietta: Students at the MJCCA Sunshine School wave flags during the pledge of allegiance in Marietta on Thursday, June 27, 2013. This pre-k program is considered a quality rated center. The new quality rating system for day care centers kicks in on July 1 for the state of Georgia. JOHNNY CRAWFORD / JCRAWFORD@AJC.COM
Photo: JOHNNY CRAWFORD / JCRAWFORD@AJC.
Photo: JOHNNY CRAWFORD / JCRAWFORD@AJC.

Quality rating system for day care centers posts first ratings; parents encouraged to push centers to participate

Georgia goes public July 1 with its new voluntary quality-rating system for child care centers. About 200 of the state’s 6,000 centers have been rated, and about 1,200 more have applied to be rated. Parents can see whether a center is rated by going to www.decal.ga.gov or www.qualityrated.org.

State officials are encouraging parents to ask the licensed provider who takes care of their children: Are you rated? If not, why not?

“We want parents to be aware of Quality Rated and use this information in selecting quality early education for their children,” said Bobby Cagle, commissioner of Bright From the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

Like restaurants and hotels, child care centers can earn a 1-, 2- or 3-star rating, with 3 being the best rating. Centers have to go above and beyond the health and safety standards required for state licensing and are rated based on points they derive from a portfolio, as well as an independent observation.

  • 1 star demonstrates a commitment to meeting standards that exceed state health and safety requirements, and a center that meets several quality thresholds and scores sufficiently on the independent observation.
  • 2 stars demonstrate a commitment to meeting standards that exceed state health and safety requirements, and a center that meets many quality thresholds and scores well on the independent observation.
  • 3 stars demonstrate a commitment to meeting standards that exceed state health and safety requirements, and a center that meets numerous quality thresholds and scores high on the independent observation.

If a center is rated, parents will be able to see specifics, such as class ratios, how the playground looked on a licensing visit, and whether any minor or major violations were noted.

Additional resources are available at each rating level: 1-star centers receive $5,000-$6,000 in supplies and materials; for 2-star centers, packages are worth $4,000-$5,000; top rated 3-star centers receive funds to cover $250 bonuses for teachers, and a $500 bonus for the director. At each star level, center employees receive training and technical help from the state aimed at improving quality.

Other money: In a move to ensure that children from low-income families have access to high-quality child care, the state will be offering child care providers other money as well. The government subsidizes child care for children from low-income families — currently at about $74 a week. That subsidy will increase per child based on a provider’s rating. It will go up by 2 percent for 1-star rated centers, 5 percent for 2-star rated centers and 10 percent for 3-star rated centers. In Year 2, officials say they hope to be able to reduce the co-pay for low-income parents who put their children in rated centers.

Questions: Call the Quality Rated Help Desk at 1-855-800-7747 or connect with child care resources at www.allgakids.org or by calling the toll-free number 1-877-ALL-GA-KIDS.

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Source: Bright From the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

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