The Early Childhood Education Management Systems, or ECEMS, Childcare Center here at the CSU-Pueblo campus has just learned of a milestone accomplishment from the Qualistar Early Learning rating organization.
The Qualistar organization has given the Child Care Center four of four stars making them one of two child care centers in Pueblo to receive this honor. It is also one of the few in the state to receive four stars on its first initial evaluation, according to ECEMS Program Administrator and President Louanna Razo.
Qualistar Early Learning is a nonprofit childcare rating organization that evaluates Colorado early education centers and offers suggestions for improvement. The organization made unannounced visits to the center last month. The qualities rated for the center included learning environment, family partnership, staff training and education, teacher-student ratios and group sizes, and national accreditation, said Razo.
The Qualistar rating is meant to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of childcare programs and summarizes the strengths and weaknesses within that program. They also provide tips and advice for any improvements. Trained observers for Qualistar spend several hours in each classroom collecting and recording information. They then calculate their scores to determine the rating.
Parents also share opinions of the Child Care Center to help observers give the score. A huge part of the high rating of the center is probably the positive feedback from parents, Razo said.
“This is an excellent child care center that puts children’s needs and interests first. We feel fortunate to have such a great resource here in Pueblo,” said one parent to the observer. Parent comments as well as observer comments were given back to Razo along with the good news of the high rating.
The observer was also impressed by the staff at the Child Care Center.
“Eighty-two percent of the teaching staff at this program has formal training in Early Childhood Education. This training is reflected in the quality of their interactions with children and in the activities they plan that promote children’s development in language, reasoning, math, art, and social skills,” said the trained observer that evaluated the center.
The Child Care Center has two of its staff members with their Associates Degrees in Early Childhood Education and three staff members with Bachelor’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education, said Razo. It also boasts one staff member with a Master’s degree in Special Education and she is proud to say that they offer accommodations in Special Education.
The Qualistar observer was also impressed with Razo’s qualifications.
“The director has formal training in Early Childhood Education and has a strong commitment to staff education,” the observer said in the evaluation.
“Receiving this four-star rating is a reflection on the quality business model we use here,” said Razo.
“We received our highest scores on our family partnerships and we are very proud of the relationships we have with our children and families,” continued Razo.
The Child Care Center currently has 64 children enrolled in their program that are student children and a few children from faculty and staff. Razo said that students have number one priority.
ECEMS offers a lot of benefits for students including flex scheduling which charges only when children attend as opposed to other centers that charge all year round whether the child attends or not. This adds up to over $1000 of savings a year for students, said Razo.
The Child Care Center is also 75 percent of the way through the process of receiving accreditation through The National Association for Education of Young Children, adding to its wall of trophies.