A mounting body of research suggests that the first five years of a child’s life are crucial for cognitive development and emotional wellbeing, thus laying the foundation for the lifelong health of a child. So, it’s important for families to seek out quality early child care, but, oftentimes it’s hard for parents to truly know what quality looks like.
Fortunately, in Colorado, we have Colorado Shines, which is a quality improvement rating system that rates child care programs across the state on a scale from 1-5, with 5 being the highest rating a child care program can receive. This rating system not only helps child care providers better understand where within their program they need to make quality improvements, but it is also a great tool for parents who need help finding quality child care programs in their area.
Colorado Shines ratings are free and easily accessible at www.coloradoshines.com. Using the sites searchable database, parents can look for child care programs based on distance from their work or home (see below).
Because Early Learning Ventures (ELV) provides tools and resources—like our child management system, Alliance CORE—directly to early child care programs, we wanted to take a closer look at how utilizing our services might affect the quality of the child care programs we work with.
First, we looked at the Colorado Shines ratings of non-ELV child care providers compared to those who are currently utilizing our services.
For all non-ELV child care providers in Colorado who had participated in Colorado Shines as of December 2017, their average Colorado Shines rating was 1.8. Comparing that to all ELV providers who are utilizing our child management system, Alliance CORE, the average rating in December 2017 was 2.5. Additionally, child care programs who participated in ELV’s Quality Child Care Partnership program, which qualifies them to receive deeper, more supportive services, had an average rating of 3.1 in December 2017.
Diving deeper, we looked at users who had been using CORE for < 1 year, compared to those who had been using CORE for > 1 year. As a result, the average Colorado Shines rating for CORE users who had been using the system for < 1 year was 2.17. However, after more than a year of using CORE, child care providers saw a rating increase of nearly an entire point totaling an average rating of 2.8.
From these results, we can conclude that child care providers who utilize CORE, on average, have a higher Colorado Shines rating than non-ELV child care providers. We can also conclude that child care providers utilizing CORE for more than a year can expect to see a significant increase to their rating.
Overall, looking at quality when finding child care is extremely important, and Colorado Shine ratings can help families decide what child care is best their child. This rating system also helps child care providers better understand where they need to make improvements to their programs.