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April 23, 2013

Quality of child-care in focus

Steps to become accredited are a problem, leaders say.

LOGANSPORT — Community leaders are hoping to boost the quality of child care as they discuss new ways of accreditation for childcare centers.

Speaking before the Cass County Community Resource Network, Katherine Toro of the Child Care Research Network pushed for child care centers to become accredited in order to boost learning and better prepare children for kindergarten.

Few centers in Cass County are certified under the state Paths to Quality program, but many say the process to be certified has too many hurdles.

The Paths to Quality program is a voluntary rating system that works to upgrade care and educational activities at child care centers, according to Toro.

Toro said the rating systems, with numbers from one to four, also help parents pick out quality day care centers.

“We want every licensed child care provider to be part of Paths to Quality,” Toro said.

However, going from step to step can be difficult for the centers, because they have to put in money, change their activities or sometimes change their building structure, Toro said.

“There are so many requirements and some people cannot meet them,” Toro said.

Toro said Cass County currently has one Level 3 center — Head Start at the Area Five Center — and two homes that offer child care at level one.

One requirement that can be hard to overcome is changing the structure of the building to meet all fire code regulations for the young children, according to Jane Horner, an early childhood education instructor at Ivy Tech Community College.

After hearing comments from the group, Forner added that many people have to prioritize cost over quality.

“When people are looking for child care here, they’re looking for affordability and close by,” Forner said.

Forner added that because parents haven’t been made aware of the rating system, they’re not demanding that child care centers obtain the certification.

“People in the county really aren’t aware of it,” Forner said.

Jackie Danhauser, school curriculum director at Logansport Community School Corp. and part of the CCRN, said she believes many day care centers do provide quality care along the lines of the ranking system. However, she said many just don’t have the resources to become part of the program.  

“Many of our daycares have steps two and three in place,” Danhauser said.

Angie McVay, administrative assistant at Little Children’s Ministry, said the center is working to become part of the Paths program, but it’ll have to speak with the church about increasing the number of bathrooms to fit the regulations.

She said they’d like to become part of the program so that parents will know their kids are prepared for school.

“I believe it makes them realize that you’re more into getting the kids higher qualified,” McVay said.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

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