New program calls for quality childcare - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

New program calls for quality childcare

New program calls for quality childcare


by Elizabeth Fay

STEVENS POINT (WAOW)--Trusting someone with your child isn't always easy.

"It's always hesitant just to leave your children for 9 hours a day with someone else. It's definitely a big decision to be made," says father of two, Scott Soulsby.

A program called YoungStar might help parents with that decision. The Secretary of the Department of Children and Families explained the program today in Stevens Point. It includes a five star rating system for all childcare providers in the Wisconsin Shares Program, the state's childcare subsidy plan.

The ratings would be posted online to help parents find the best daycare for their young ones.The department would hire people to assess the providers on the education of their staff, learning environment, health and well-being of the kids and business practices.

"We know that children who have exposure to early literacy programs, who are served nutritious meals, who have trained staffed, who know about how children develop and are stimulating their early learning. Those kids do better in life," says Secretary Reggie Bicha.

Secretary Bicha says the system would create incentives. Training, technical assistance and micro grants would be available for providers looking to improve.

"It's always good to have an outside eye to come in and look at your center to give you ideas on how to make improvements, no matter how high a quality you think you are," says the Director of Bright Horizons in Marshfield, Trina Tiffany.

The program links dollars with quality. The better the rating, the greater the funding.

"We won't ask for one additional dollar from tax payers what we need is the authority to use existing dollars in the right way," says Secretary Bicha.

Right now, Youngstar is just a proposal. If the Joint Finance Committee passes it, the secretary says ratings would begin in September. That gives time for providers to make improvements.

Online Reporter: Elizabeth Fay

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