Kern Early Stars Program Launched
In celebration of the Week of the Young Child, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office and First 5 Kern officially launched the Kern Early Stars program during a special event held on April 10 at the Oaks Children’s Center in Southwest Bakersfield. Kern Early Stars assesses and awards stars to child development centers and providers that voluntarily participate, with a focus on ensuring a commitment to quality improvement.
“Numerous studies show that when children receive high quality care and education during their first five years of life, they are more ready for school, they are better readers, and they are more likely to graduate from high school,” said Ami Moser, Program Quality Specialist with KCSOS. This is the fundamental reason for the Kern Early Stars program being created and implemented in our county.”
Stars are awarded based on how well providers meet established, statewide criteria in areas such as: provider qualifications; teacher-child relationships; teacher-child ratio; learning experiences / school readiness; health & development; and safe and age appropriate environments. Providers receive a report card, which outlines strengths and development areas, and are eligible to be re-assesses every two years.
Moser said it is important to note that the number of stars awarded does not equate to letter grades one would expect to find on a normal report card. For example, a provider that earns 1 or 2 stars is not failing.
“The Kern Early Stars star award system is different than the rating system people are accustomed to when reviewing a restaurant or hotel,” she said. “Factors that impact star awards may include: staff education level, experience with the tools used in rating, type of early learning program, and the experience level at which participants enter the program.”
Providers enrolled in the Kern Early Stars program have the opportunity to work with coaches to understand their strengths and develop techniques to make the improvements they would like to see in their program. They receive tips and learning materials to help improve their physical environments and children’s overall learning experiences.
Choosing the best child care option can be overwhelming for parents. Providers enrolled in the Kern Early Stars have a shown a commitment to continuous quality improvement of their program. The star awards provide insight to parents to assist with making an informed decision.
Kern Early Stars is grant funded and there are no costs associated with the program. There are 69 family child care providers and 78 child development centers participating county wide, with more being added each year.
Star awarded providers may be accessed at www.kernearlystars.org.