Helping children develop healthy eating habits is an important goal in every quality childcare setting. In April 2016, the USDA released new guidelines for healthy meals and snacks for all ages effective starting October 1, 2017; as of this date these are the standards BrightStars assessors will use during an ERS observation when assessing adherence to USDA guidelines.
Bright Start Academy in Smithfield recently renewed its BrightStars participation and maintained their quality rating of 4-Stars. The program also scored nearly identical overall ERS results, exceeding a score of 5.0 for the second participation cycle in a row. These consistent, high quality results are a testament to the program’s overall environment. “The program offers a safe, clean, and caring environment that actively engages children in acquiring new skills and knowledge,” says assistant director Jill Cabral-Boni, who joined Bright Start’s team in 2017. “Each classroom contains well-equipped learning centers that are arranged to promote independence, foster decision making, encourage involvement, and include all developmental domains.”
BrightStars promotes the importance of providing safe environments to children and we see the incredible value of independent outdoor play without barriers. Outdoor play as an essential part of a child’s development. It provides opportunities for children to advance physically, emotionally and intellectually.
In order to better support programs, BrightStars has recently revised their Environment Rating Scale (ERS) reports and supplementary materials. These revisions reflect a thorough review of several QRIS and their report systems. The new reports are different in three important ways: 1) The reports are more customized to the specific classroom observed, 2) the reports focus specifically on areas where programs can make the most meaningful improvements and less on sanitation and procedures and 3) they reports have further integrated positive feedback so that programs can reflect on practices they may wish to continue or expand.
The Environment Rating Scales, including the ECERS, ITERS, FCCERS, and SACERS, consider several different types of activities that encourage the development of a wide range of learning goals. One area of curriculum that is considered in all four scales is Nature/Science. The purpose of this item is to expose children to the natural world through a wide variety of materials that promote discovery and a beginning understanding of the scientific method. This can be achieved in several ways including collections of natural objects in the classroom (rocks, pinecones, leaves, etc.), books, games and toys that show science a nature in a lifelike manner, or science activities such as the use of magnets, sinking/floating activities, etc.
Emmanuel Day School, located in Newport, began its BrightStars participation in 2015. The program “offers a nurturing, intimate, and exciting learning environment with enriching opportunities for preschool children to discover and explore,” says Carissa Perkowski, director and lead teacher.
Positive Start in North Smithfield is a family child care program first rated by BrightStars in 2009 and has continued to strive for quality improvement and to maintain their star rating. In October 2016, Positive Start renewed their participation on the new BrightStars standards and achieved an overall rating of 4 stars. Connie Lepine, the family child care provider, has worked incredibly hard to increase the program’s overall Environment Rating Scale (ERS) score. Connie has worked collaboratively with BrightStars throughout this process and has partnered with BrightStars by providing her program as a site for practice observations for BrightStars staff trainings.
As one of many items considered in each scale, The Environment Rating Scales (ECERS-R, ITERS-R, FCCERS-R, SACERS-U) each include at least one item that is used to assess how books, language materials and language activities are experienced by children. One of the criteria considered in certain items is whether the books and language materials are appropriate for the ages and abilities of the children enrolled in the group being observed.
The Children’s Workshop – Westerly was first rated by BrightStars in September 2014, and has worked diligently to continually improve the quality of its programming since. This month, The Children’s Workshop increased their overall star rating to 4 Stars. The program’s director, Chrissy Stanlewicz, and staff have worked incredibly hard to increase the program’s overall Environment Rating Scale (ERS) scores. The team worked collaboratively with BrightStars throughout this process, and partnered with BrightStars by providing their program as a site for practice observations for BrightStars staff training on the ERS tool and the tablets used to conduct observations. The program then had the opportunity to use these scores to increase their rating. Chrissy said, “I am very proud of the dedicated team of educators that provide high quality care to our children. Through our teachers’ hard work and implementation of BrightStars standards, we were able to achieve a high quality rating.”
Rhode Island AEYC/BrightStars Executive Director, Lisa Hildebrand, members of the Rhode Island AEYC board, and four Rhode Island AEYC/BrightStars staff members attended the National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development in Baltimore, Maryland.
posted: 01/29/2016 by Erin, Child Care Plus Learning Center
Child Care Plus shares a facility with a dance studio, The Rita Beaulieu Dance & Performing Arts Center. Once a month, our Preschool students takes a dance class with Miss Erin where they learn about movement, dance, stretching, and of course have tons of fun! However, you do not need to have a dance studio to incorporate dance and creative movement in your center or homes, all you need is an open space!
BrightStars manages all of the reliable assessors for the Environmental Rating Scales. Part of this management is to ensure that all assessors remain reliable on the tools. This reliability is two-fold. First, each assessor will have a reliability check on their tenth observation. This consists of conducting an ERS in tandem with the Senior Assessment Specialist. Second, each assessor is also reliably to the pool of assessors. Together they have created the Rhode Island Notes.
As temperatures drop and winter approaches, the term, “weather permitting,” becomes an important consideration for programs seeking to emphasize outdoor play and improve their scores on the Environment Rating Scales. Opportunities for outdoor play, gross motor play and experiences with nature are emphasized appear in several items of each of the scales: the ECERS-R, ITERS-R, FCCERS-R, SACERS-R and even the newly released ECERS-3.
Indoor and outdoor facilities improvements are currently a popular topic for child care programs and providers In Rhode Island. Renovations to facilities may lead to exciting improvements to program accessibility and safety can have a meaningful impact on overall program quality..
The Economic Progress Institute has a web-based tool that provides information about government assistance programs and community-based resources that help low- and modest- income Rhode Island families meet basic needs.
This month, the Department of Human Services announced Rising Star Awards to recognize BrightStars programs converting to the new standards or achieving advanced levels. The following are frequently asked questions about the Rising Star Award Program.
The Rhode Island Department of Human Services has contracted with Child Trends to conduct a statewide study of early care and education programs. The study will provide valuable information about the BrightStars Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS).
posted: 05/20/2015 by Jo-Anne Petrie, Operations Manager
Fine motor skills is the coordination of small muscle movements – usually involving small, precise thumb, finger, hand, and wrist movements. Fine motor activity in the early year’s help children refine their pincer grasp (grasping an object with their thumb and pointer finger using their preferred hand) and are a precursor to handwriting.
posted: 03/16/2015 by Jenny Pichardo, Communications Coordinator
The first in an ongoing series, Quality Improvement Specialist Elena Vasquez nominated Virginia Najarro, owner of Virginia’s Family ChildCare, to highlight as a BrightStars participant making quality improvements in her program to apply best practice to the care that children receive. Stay tuned for more in the BrightStars Program Focus Series!
posted: 01/29/2015 by Jo-Anne DeGiacomo Petrie, Manager of Operations
I’m so glad you are here! My name is Jo-Anne DeGiacomo Petrie, Manager of Operations at RIAEYC/BrightStars. As a children’s author, mother of three grown children, and more than 30 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education I am thrilled to be a part of the BrightStars team and introducing you to our blog.