The Aspire Registry team has released their August newsletter. For more than a year now, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. Each month, the newsletter is distributed to over 24,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.
In this month’s newsletter, Aspire Registry member Marilyn A. Ballard shares her experiences on her early childhood career pathway. The Aspire Registry team also discusses their second annual focus group, which provided the team with great insight into the application process, website, and much more. Lastly, the newsletter features a spotlight on Diana Diaz, the Aspire Registry’s Administrator.
To read the newsletter, click here.
Ariel Davis is the Director of QUALITYstarsNY, New York’s quality rating and improvement system. Her work focuses on helping early childhood programs across the state of New York to identify areas of improvement and supporting them to meet their quality improvement goals. We asked Ariel to share some of her reflections about her work with us.
What is your current role? In your own words, how would you describe the work you do?
QUALITYstarsNY is New York's Quality Rating and Improvement System that supports programs serving young children to build and sustain quality. A program participating in QUALITYstarsNY is evaluated or "rated" based on how it measures up to QUALITYstarsNY Program Standards, a robust set of research-based indicators known to affect child outcomes. Working in collaboration with the program, QUALITYstarsNY then uses that evaluation data to build a plan to address specific areas for growth. Finally, and in an ongoing way, QUALITYstarsNY provides coaching and resources to help programs implement their plans—from purchasing books for the classroom to providing scholarships for staff to earn degrees or credit(s) in areas that will help improve their quality.
As Director of QUALITYstarsNY, I oversee and coordinate many aspects of the day-to-day implementation work while also planning for the future expansion of the system. The work itself varies daily, but certain constants include: establishing and maintaining relationships with community partners, initiating and managing work with subcontractors, and using data to evaluate and continuously improve internal and external strategies.
In 2011, Congress called for proposals for the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Grant. The purpose of the RTT-ELC Grant was to improve the quality of early learning programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, as well as increase the number of low-income and disadvantaged children enrolled in these programs. Four years later, the results of the $1 billion federal investment are in and have demonstrated positive impacts on children and families living in Early Learning Challenge states. During visits to two Early Learning Challenge states, Secretary John King shared that states that leveraged the RTT-ELC Grant opportunity doubled the number of highly rated programs in their states. This means that more children are receiving high quality early childhood education and care than ever before.
The Schenectady Early Childhood Education Center, a QUALITYstarsNY program, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate a year of successful renovations intended to better meet the needs of their children and community. Since moving to Schenectady in 2015, the program has worked hand-in-hand with the community to find grants and resources to build a suitable playground for the children to enjoy. The new renovation ensure that all children in the community, including those with walkers and wheelchairs, are now able safely play and explore thanks to a new Poured-in-Place Playground Surface and fence around the perimeter.
The mental health of New York’s youngest children is of the upmost importance to ensure that they have the ability to thrive and grow in their homes, child care centers, and classrooms and develop into successful adults. In response to the needs of the city’s youngest children and their families, First Lady Chirlane McCray has announced the creation of the Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Network, which will provide mental health services to children under six years of age and support families with children with mental health needs. The ECMH network, operated by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was developed to work in conjunction with the Administration for Children's Services' and Department of Education’s new social-emotional learning supports, which will be available to children in EarlyLearn and Pre-K for All sites. The implementation of the ECMH Network will be the most comprehensive mental health plan in the country, and demonstrates New York City’s innovative approach to meeting the needs of the city’s children. Most importantly, this unprecedented work marks the City’s commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of children and families.
The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute supports the City’s efforts to provide information, professional development, and resources to the early childhood teachers and leaders who work with families every day. Research has consistently demonstrated that social-emotional skills are critical for children to navigate the world inside the classroom and beyond. These skills also build the foundation for children’s mental health well into adulthood. Through implementing the ECMH Network, New York City has made a strong investment in the City’s children and its future.
To the Editor:
“The Wages of Child Care” (Business Day, July 13) illuminates the problem: low wages driven by the fact that the burden to pay these wages rests on young families, early in their earning capacity, and grossly inadequate public subsidy rates.
The United States needs to make a social policy change by allocating public resources to support infrastructure to ensure high-quality child care, with well-trained and well-educated teachers earning adequate compensation (both wages and benefits).
Other countries demonstrate their commitment to young families by generously subsidizing the cost of child care, enabling them to be more productive in the workplace while making sure that their children have opportunities to thrive and start school without the prevailing achievement gap, because they’ve had highly effective early childhood educators who earn professional wages.
Recent polls in the United States indicate that high-quality early childhood education for children from birth to 5 is a bipartisan priority among voters. It is time to pass legislation that includes funding that will significantly elevate compensation of those entrusted with this important responsibility.
SHERRY M. CLEARY
Homelessness continues to affect the lives of thousands of young children in New York and across the country. In addition to health and safety concerns, homeless children and youth also face many challenges when seeking access to education. In order to address these barriers, the U.S. Department of Education has recently released guidance to states and school districts on the new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that aim to support homeless children and youth. The new provisions will ensure access to education and protection to homeless children and youth, and will provide them with support for their individual needs. The guidance is intended to help states and school districts best implement the new law by providing them with critical tools and resources necessary to increase the educational success of homeless children and youths throughout their academic careers.
Although the law will impact all homeless children and youth, the new provisions demonstrate an increased focus on preschool-aged homeless youth. For example, the new provisions strive to ensure that all preschool-age homeless children have access to public preschool programs. These children must also have the opportunity to receive supportive services, including speech therapy, psychological counselling, and medical evaluations, if eligible. Additionally, the provisions stipulate that states and school districts must provide school stability across age-groups and grade levels to ensure that even preschool-aged homeless children can remain in the same school throughout the academic year. With these new provisions, all children across the U.S. will have access to excellence, and will receive the tools necessary to become successful adults.
Building quality through a well-trained and educated workforce continues to be an important focus of the early childhood field, both at the state level and nationally. Experts agree that developing and retaining a strong early childhood workforce begins with creating clear, research-based career pathways that outline the knowledge and competencies necessary to be a successful early educator. In response, the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) has released a new Policy Statement on Early Childhood Career Pathways. The goal of the new policy statement is to provide guidance on how to elevate the early childhood workforce, both in policy and in practice, to help teachers and program directors as they advance through their careers. Specifically, career pathways detail the sequence of research-based, portable credentials, as well as different supports and resources, educators will need as they progress on their career pathway. In order to develop this work on a systems levels and for individuals seeking professional advancement, the report provides state and local recommendations.
The Aspire Registry team has released their July newsletter. For more than a year now, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. Each month, the newsletter is distributed to over 24,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.
One of the greatest opportunities to strengthen New York’s early childhood workforce is building the quality of practice in family child care programs. The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs recently released its full report analyzing the progress and challenges of the city’s contracted, EarlyLearn Family Childcare programs. The report, Bringing It All Home: Problems and Possibilities Facing New York City’s Family Child Care, provides a blueprint for building on lessons learned from New York City’s EarlyLearn initiative over the last four years with subsidized family child care programs.
The report identifies two of primary areas for development:
leveraging the unique strengths of family child care programs, including culturally-responsive, relationship-based practice, and
providing clear expectations and additional training to the network support staff who coach and monitor family child care providers.
The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute’s own experience in the informal family child care field as well as with teacher coaching, and the relevant policy research, support the report’s emphasis on strengths-based practice and the power of trusted coaching relationships to create lasting change. Well-organized and resourced family child care networks reduce isolation and create opportunities for providers to access professional development. Ensuring that this professional development is of high quality and responsive to the needs of providers along with site-based coaching will elevate the field of family child care and raise outcomes for thousands of infants, toddlers and young children.