by Ron Seidman VP/GM, A Child’s World
Many of you have seen plaques in businesses you frequent or in advertising claiming a “Best of Category.” The truth is that quite often a company will send a business a letter informing that they have been selected as the best of their town in their business category and for a fee they will make the business a plaque. Newspapers do it a different way. They entice the business to place an ad and their clients, friends, relatives or anyone can vote for them. Besides the pay-for-play nature of this marketing, it is all very subjective.
My brother doesn’t like any restaurant I choose. However, the issue is different when it concerns childcare and pre-school, better referred to as early care and education (ECE). ECE centers are heavily regulated. In addition, standards put in place by the state in the last six years have done much more to upgrade quality, safety, teacher and director qualifications and much more. There is now a quality rating scale known as KEYSTONE STARS that is based upon The Environmental Rating Scale (ERS).
The ERS was developed at the University of North Carolina and has become a national standard. Centers are given a rating based on their score in the ERS, which is a very rigorous instrument. The highest level achievable is 4STARS and if the center your child attends has this rating you can be assured he or she is in a good to excellent program that is focused on a quality environment.
Many centers have difficulty reaching 4 stars and many others such as the chains and the franchises do not participate at all because it is costly and difficult to comply with facility improvements, required supplies and most important development and training for a high quality staff. Less than 10% of centers in Pennsylvania are rated 4STARS.
When it comes to early care and education the only rating you should care about is the certificate from PAKEYS and the rated number for KEYSTONE STARS. If the center your child attends does not have a rating, you should ask why or just find one that does.
For more information about KEYSTONE STARS visit www.PAKEYS.org.