By Sarah Gould-Houde, Quality Improvement Specialist for Capital Region

I have had the honor and excitement of supporting all modalities of regulated child care serving children from six weeks to five years of age in Warren, Washington and Saratoga Counties for the last five years as a Quality Improvement Specialist (QI Specialist) for QUALITYstarsNY. QUALITYstarsNY is New York State’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for early childhood programs. As the state’s QRIS, QUALITYstarsNY assesses the quality of early childhood programs using Quality Standards that are rooted in research that supports providing children with the highest chances for optimal developmental outcomes.  We provide continual, comprehensive support and resources to improve and sustain high quality early childhood programs.

In my role as a QI Specialist, I support programs as they earn their Star Ratings and work with them to use the QUALITYstarsNY Standards to implement practices aligned with the philosophy that best represents their program. I have been excited to see the amazing ways providers work with their children and support families. Every meeting I engage, it leaves me with a new approach to working with children and the systems we work within.

Since the pandemic, QUALITYstarsNY has been expanding in these counties, and I am enthralled with those who are willing and able to engage in continuous quality improvement, especially during such a challenging and difficult time for the early childhood community.

Family child care provider, Patrice Howard of Toddler Time University has been in QUALITYstarsNY for a year. I am inspired with every interaction we have. Patrice has completed so many goals in the past year. She is now using the Ages and Stages Questionairre-3rd Edition to perform developmental screenings with children as they enter her program. This process provides a safe and calculated platform to discuss a child’s development with their families to support referrals to Early Intervention or the Committee of Preschool Special Education as needed.

QUALITYstarsNY has also been able to purchase her program learning materials to provide the children with more indoor block play and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) materials (as pictured on the right).

Program Spotlight: Toddler Time University

“As a QUALITYstarsNY participant, I have received a personal coach, materials for my child care program and access to tuition paid courses! My Quality Improvement Specialist, Sarah Gould-Houde, led me through the process of self-evaluation and helped me realize the areas we together could improve to best benefit the children in my care. I have been operating my family child care for more than 30 years. Finally there is a program willing to improve child care and backing it up financially.

“The improvements made ranged from courses I’ve always wanted to take (FCCERS), materials needed to identify early intervention (ASQ-3 kit), and products and equipment that normally would be out of my financial reach (quality playground equipment). The children in my program are definitely benefitting!

“I feel excited about my career again! My whole program has gotten recharged and I’m always excited to work on the next improvement!”

Patrice Howard

Owner/Director of Toddler Time University

I am thrilled to say that we are currently expanding in Warren, Washington, Hamilton and Saratoga Counties. If you are interested in participating and accessing QUALITYstarsNY’s support and resources – all at no cost to programs, complete the Program Interest form to get started and join us for an upcoming Information Session!

Sarah Gould-Houde, M.S.Ed., NYS T-TAP Credentialed Trainer and Coach, has been a QI Specialist with QUALITYstarsNY since 2016. She supports programs in the Capital District and North Country.