Creating high-quality programs for young children requires close attention to the environments in which they spend their time. Are the interactions between staff and children, staff and parents, and the children with each other, healthy and positive? Is there adequate supervision of staff? Are the activities and materials developmentally appropriate? Are the physical space and the schedule realistic, consistent and supportive of children’s development and learning?
These are the kinds of questions that comprise the Environmental Rating Scales, the statewide assessment instruments for program quality. According to research, the answers to these questions—based on expert observations--are more predictive of child outcomes than the more conventional structural factors such as staff to child ratio, group size, cost and even type of care.
The goal of the Environmental Rating Scales is to improve childcare quality along three core dimensions: protection of children’s health and safety, building of positive relationships, and opportunities for stimulation and learning from experience. The Scales are also designed to increase participation in North Carolina’s voluntary Start Rated License system for childcare facilities, in which quality is measure by the number of stars earned.
Our Training and Technical Assistance Specialists provide technical assistance to childcare facilities licensed by the state of North Carolina. The goal of the program is to raise awareness of the elements of a successful program, and also to increase the educational quality of care that children receive as measured by a facility’s star rating.
Our program currently serves over 100 small and large businesses in Onslow County, a workforce of over 900 educators, and more than 4,500 children and families.