On February 28th, United Way of Central Alabama, along with partners in the Bold Goals Coalition, gathered to celebrate the hard work of local childcare programs participating in the Alabama Quality STARS “Quality Rating and Improvement System” (QRIS) About | (alabamaqualitystars.org). This system is a partnership between the Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education that awards STAR levels to childcare programs that have committed to continuous improvement through a thorough set of standards.
Special guests at the event included:
- Commissioner Nancy Buckner, Alabama Department of Human Resources
- Kellie Holcomb, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education
- Senator Linda Coleman-Madison
- Joan Wright, Childcare Resources
- Allison Muhlendorf, Alabama School Readiness Alliance
Senator Coleman-Madison summed up, in six words, why the work of these childcare programs and Bold Goals partners is so important: “Our young people are our future.” Commissioner Buckner also voiced appreciation to childcare providers by saying, “You are where the rubber meets the road with those babies, teaching them things that will help them be successful adults.”
Guests heard testimonials from several childcare providers on the value of technical assistance offered through the Bold Goals Coalition’s Early Learning Action Network and United Way’s Success By 6 program. Jennifer Davis of J. Alex Child Development Center said, “When we started, we were operating on faith and pixie dust. We partnered with the Early Learning Action Network to become a First-Class Pre-K site and with Success by 6, which continues to help my center. Whatever my teachers need, Success By 6 is there.”
Lakeshia Minnefield of Angel Care Daycare said, “I was not interested in the STARS program at first, but research further into the system convinced me. I have enjoyed the program because it helps the families I serve, aids in improving our environment and assists us in purchasing equipment. Helping yourself helps you support the people you serve.”
Twenty-four providers were present at the celebration, all of which had made the commitment to earn STARS. As Joan Wright pointed out, “All of these providers volunteered to attain STAR ratings. No one is required. They participated because they desire to offer the highest quality care and education to children in their program.”
These providers have all worked exceptionally hard to make their programs the best they can be, and UWCA was thrilled to be able to offer some much-deserved recognition and appreciation. Providers received a certificate of thanks for their efforts, and through the generosity of Bundles of Hope, all providers were also able to take home a bundle of books for their children!
This event was hosted with the support of United Way of Central Alabama, the Alabama Department of Human Resources, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, Alabama School Readiness Alliance and Childcare Resources. These partners, along with many others, are involved in the Bold Goals Coalition’s Early Learning Action Network, which is a collaboration of organizations and individuals working toward making sure that all children in Central Alabama have access to quality childcare and enter kindergarten ready to learn. UWCA would like to thank all of these partners and the legislators who approved funding last year to enhance the quality of early learning through the Quality Stars and Alabama’s First Class Pre-K programs. Funding increases for both programs are expected to be considered when the Alabama Legislature begins the 2023 legislative session on March 7th.
To learn more about the Bold Goals Coalition and Success By 6 specifically, visit Our Programs – United Way of Central Alabama (uwca.org).