Only three Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) providers have attained the top rating from Colorado Shines in El Paso County.
The El Paso County Department of Human Services Executive Director Julie Krow and Commissioner Cami Bremer recently recognized three Colorado Child Care Assistance Program Level 5 care centers recently to recognize the centers for efforts to become the highest quality care provider.
“These centers are shining stars, serving as examples to others in the region,” said Commissioner Cami Bremer.
Representatives from Early Connections Home Network and Alliance for Kids also honored the centers. The partner agencies lead the effort to help local child care centers successfully pursue improved ratings through regular coaching and training.
“High-quality child care is a critical component of healthy and strong communities,” said Julie Krow, El Paso County Department of Human Services executive director. “CCCAP is one component that helps families with added benefits: Early childhood education is critical in a child’s development.”
CCCAP is focused on providing eligible households with access to high quality, affordable child care that supports healthy child development and school readiness while promoting household self-sufficiency and informed child care choices. In El Paso County, more than 3,100 children are approved in CCCAP.
Colorado Shines is a quality rating and improvement system that monitors and supports early learning programs. A Colorado Shines rating (Levels 1-5) means that a program is licensed, in good standing and meets health and safety standards. It also means that the program is regularly reviewed by state officials.
The Level 5 child care centers are all in private homes:
- Sister Sister Family Childcare
- The Learning Tree
- Let’s Monkey Around Pre-school
Although the details were different, they all had a variety of spaces for activities, inside and outside, as well as a lot of options for the children to learn.
Sister Sister Family Childcare was a hive of activity during the visit on August 29 and is the most recent to be rated as Level 5. Kelly Fugate credited the coaching and training with improving her center.
Valerie Dunn, who runs The Learning Tree, said it took about a year to move from a Level 3 to a Level 5. The coaching and training helped clarify the all the requirements to raise her rating, she said. She started caring for children in 1989. Achieving Colorado Shines Level 5 took about seven months. Joining The Home Network was a key part in the process, as was the help from dedicated coaches and Alliance for Kids grants.
“Four years ago I made a decision to dedicate the rest of my career to caring for children and families that most needed quality care but were unable to afford it,” Dunn said. “It’s so gratifying to know you are giving the children and families in your care the highest level of quality care possible.”
Stacey Buzbee at Let’s Monkey Around Pre-school cares for special and medical needs children. A licensed provider for nearly 19 years, she spent a year working on achieving Level 5 in a grant facilitation program.
“Many of the requirements to become a Level 5 were things I was doing already; I just had to work on all the documentation,” she said. “I reached my L5 rating because of a strong team – my family, my child care families, Home Network and staff, Alliance for Kids and staff, Early Learning Ventures and staff, Pikes Peak Regional Child Care Association, and my fellow licensed child care providers – who are dedicated to my success as well as to the children in our community.”
“I feel quality child care is important for safeguarding a child’s health and safety, cognitive, language and social development with consistent and emotionally supportive care helps foster a happy child,” Buzbee said.
Programs with higher ratings (Levels 3-5) have gone through an extensive process to demonstrate high-quality programs and practices in all areas that Colorado Shines reviews. Once a program gets a rating, Colorado Shines has tools to help the program continue to improve its quality. As of August 30, 2019, El Paso County has 54 highly rated centers.
“I want to thank all the CCCAP home and center providers who have dedicated their time and attention to raising the level of quality in our community for all the children being cared for and for setting an example of excellence for all providers on the journey to higher quality,” said Yesenia Torres, DHS Adult and Family Services Manager.
Most of the 184 CCCAP providers in EL Paso County are rated as Level 1 or Level 2, and are regularly monitored by state officials. The providers may be home-based care centers, or commercial entities. All centers have the option to pursue higher ratings, and there are resources to assist in the process.
Parents and caregivers can learn ratings and other information on child care centers online at https://www.coloradoshines.com. For more information on CCCAP, including eligibility information and how to apply, visit https://humanservices.elpasoco.com and click on Assistance Programs.