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New York Quality Rating and Improvement System Supports Quality for Infants and Toddlers
Field-tested in 2010, New York’s QUALITYstarsNY is a project of the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) and provides program quality standards for each modality of early childhood programs (centers, public schools, and family/home providers).
As of February 2018, QUALITYstarsNY serves approximately 687 center-based programs, family-home providers, and public schools in targeted communities who applied and were selected to participate. Infant-toddler program standards are a key component of the system and reflect the unique needs of this age group. The infant-toddler program standards address daily interactions and relationships, physical learning environments, developmental screening and assessments, curriculum, children with special needs, environmental safety and physical health, nutrition, and physical activity -all from the developmental perspective of the very youngest children. One example of an infant-toddler standard is as follows: Program promotes the quality and continuity of teacher-child relationships through teacher training, teacher scheduling, and other policies such as ensuring no more than one transition within the child’s first two years.
In addition to the standards, QUALITYstarsNY provides participants with financial supports for quality improvement. Supports typically come in the form of grants, material supplies, and scholarships for staff training and credit-bearing coursework. For instance, PITC trainers provide onsite technical assistance to infant-toddler programs, and scholarships are offered to providers seeking the states infant-toddler credential and the infant-toddler Child Development Associate (CDA).
In order to assess the progress that programs had made in the first three years, a study was conducted from 2013-2015. Some of the key findings were:
- 84% of programs increased the total number of points scored on quality standards
- 34% statewide improvement in learning environment scores
- 31% statewide improvement in family engagement scores
- 44% of all programs increased their star rating
- 65% increase in programs earning four and five stars
- 12% improvement in qualifications and experience scores
- 31% improvement in management and leadership scores
QUALITYstarsNY began the Start with Stars initiative in 2017. Start with Stars is a system of supports designed for new early childhood programs, as well as those programs who face licensing challenges. Start with Stars provides targeted, intense, short-term support to help vulnerable programs prepare to participate in QUALITYstarsNY. Over the course of their participation, programs will receive frequent contact from a designated Quality Improvement Specialist who will work closely with program leadership to define improvement goals. In collaboration with their Quality Improvement Specialist, the program leader will identify tailored strategies and resources needed to meet their goals. Upon demonstrating measurable and significant progress, programs will be invited to participate in QUALITYstarsNY to continue their ongoing quality improvement efforts. Participants in Start with Stars benefit from a variety of resources, at no charge, to support them through the quality improvement process.
This description of New York’s work is highlighted in ZERO TO THREE’s publication A Place to Get Started: Innovation in Infant and Toddler State Policies.
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In the spring and summer of 2019, New York more than doubled the number of full- and part-time Infant Toddler Specialists working to increase the quality of child care across the state.