The cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development of early childhood extends through age eight. Thus, our focus on programs, policies, and practices that impact young children includes an understanding of what high quality and best practice means in kindergarten, first, second, and third grade and in out of school time programs for those children.
Training and Technical Assistance for Great Start Collaboratives
Great Start Collaboratives are unique to Michigan and have been operating in Michigan since 2005. Each intermediate school district (ISD) or consortium of ISDs that receives funding must convene a local Great Start Collaborative and a Great Start Parent Coalition to ensure the coordination and expansion of local early childhood infrastructure and programs that allow every child in the community to achieve Michigan’s early childhood outcomes. The Investment Corporation provides an annual planned program of technical assistance to Great Start Collaborative Directors. The planned program includes training, coaching, consultation, a weekly bulletin of information and resources, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. The Investment Corporation also hosts a technical assistance consultation phone line and email box to respond to day-to-day questions and provide immediate consultation on emerging issues.
Great Start to Quality
The Early Childhood Investment Corporation implements Great Start to Quality. Great Start to Quality is Michigan’s quality rating and improvement system. It initially launched in the fall of 2011 and a new version (Version 2.0) launched in June 2013. Version 2.0 incorporated changes that recognized Michigan’s early learning and care program diversity relative to quality, areas of strength, and additional monitoring and accountability. Michigan’s state-of-the art, tiered quality rating and improvement system has been designed to increase the quality of early learning and care provided in all licensed and registered child care and preschool programs and includes unlicensed, subsidized providers within the quality improvement portion of the system. Great Start to Quality provides a reliable, valid, easy-to-understand measure of quality for licensed and registered early learning and care programs.
GreatStartToQuality.org is Michigan’s online searchable database for licensed child care and preschool. Families can search by selected criteria to find programs that best fit their needs. It also houses a professional development registry for center-based staff and home-based providers.
The Early Childhood Investment Corporation designed an online platform to support implementation of Great Start to Quality. The Great Start to Quality STARS platform is where licensed child care and preschool programs complete their self-assessment using the Great Start to Quality Program Standards criteria, utilize resources, and create quality improvement plans.
Assessment Specialists and Approved Raters are responsible for the administration of the Program Quality Assessment (PQA)® for Great Start to Quality. The Investment Corporation is facilitating biennial peer learning opportunities in 2014 for these individuals. The convenings are designed to increase shared understanding of the PQA, particularly the indicators form Tool Form A, and to ensure that Great Start to Quality program ratings are valid and reliable.
Ten Great Start to Quality Resource Centers are located in eleven regions throughout Michigan to help support providers and educators improve the quality of their programs and care. Available assistance includes: coaching and consultation for developing quality improvement plans, financial assistance for improving the child care or preschool setting, information about professional development and training opportunities, Lending library of books, CDs, puzzles, and other learning materials and Learning kits. The Investment Corporation provides an annual planned program of technical assistance to Resource Center Directors, Quality Improvement Consultants and Quality Improvement Specialist across Michigan. The planned program includes training, coaching, consultation, a weekly bulletin of information and resources, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. The Investment Corporation also hosts a technical assistance consultation phone line and email box to respond to day-to-day questions and provide immediate consultation on emerging issues.
Quality Improvement Supports
The Early Childhood Investment Corporation through Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s quality rating and improvement system, and the statewide network of Great Start to Quality Resource Centers supports center-based and home-based programs and providers with professional development, resources and consultation. The supports are specifically designed to improve quality for programs and providers with school age children.
School Age Quality Rating and Improvement System Design
The Early Childhood Investment Corporation, with funding from the Michigan Department of Education-Office of Great Start, is leading a project to engage the out-of-school time field to determine how best to include programs and providers that serve school age children in Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s tiered quality rating and improvement system.
The goal of the School Age Design of Great Start to Quality (GSQ) Project is to develop recommendations to expand Michigan’s current tiered quality rating and improvement system to include licensed and registered programs and providers who serve school age (kindergarten entry to age twelve) children and their families. The recommendations will be submitted to the Department of Education-Office of Great Start (MDE-OGS) in July of 2015 for consideration.
The Early Childhood Investment Corporation was significantly involved with many other early childhood stakeholders in the development of the current GSQ system which focuses on child care and preschool settings for children up to kindergarten entry. Since its launch, the Investment Corporation has been responsible for the day-to-day implementation of GSQ and is working in partnership with the Office of Great Start to refine and improve the system.
Extending GSQ to include out-of-school time settings is a part of a shared goal by the Investment Corporation and the Office of Great Start to achieve an alignment of standards of quality in early childhood care and education settings coupled with an intentional focus on improving the quality of all early learning settings in which young children receive care.
Out-of-school time care and education programs and providers are serving children from kindergarten entry to age twelve and are licensed or registered with the state.These programs may be operated in a variety of settings including in someone’s home, in a child care center, in a school building or a community center. Out-of-school time care and education programs offer children and youth opportunities to explore their interests and expand the school day content in dynamic ways, while providing a safe setting that families can trust.
This inclusion of out-of-school time provider and programs in GSQ will expand quality improvement supports available to out-of-school time care and education programs such as trainings, materials, one-on-one specialized consultation, and other resources. Michigan is keeping pace with the nation in expansion of our tiered quality rating and improvement system -- Great Start to Quality -- to include out-of-school time care and education programs and providers.