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NM Part of Summit to Build Strong Foundations for Young Children


Courtesy of TEACH Early Childhood, a project of NM Assn. for the Education of Young Children.

Thursday, August 1, 2013   

SANTA FE, N.M. - Folks from New Mexico are joining 350 early-childhood experts this week at the Build Initiative 2013 Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) national meeting in Washington, D.C., where the focus will be on advancing early learning and development.

Dan Haggard, deputy director of New Mexico's early childhood services, said the QRIS program offers families a way to evaluate care for their children, much like a "star system" for restaurant ratings. He said the system also benefits child-care providers.

"When programs increase their quality rating," he said, "they generate more money, so there's more incentive."

The quality star rating on the license is on display at every New Mexico early-childhood program. The state's decision to attach financial incentives to the quality rating has increased enrollment of low-income children in early-childhood programs, Haggard added.

The quality rating system has tiered standards, he said, and levels are based on specific benchmarks.

"Criteria might include whether there's a high teacher-child ratio. It might include how the environment is arranged, the types of equipment or materials that are available, and the interactions between the teachers and the children," he explained.

New Mexico has had a quality rating system since 1995, Haggard noted, but it is about to implement a new system, "Focus," based on new research.

"We will be focusing on children's learning and on helping teachers observe children's development and plan for their learning and growth," he said, "as well as helping them implement the latest research in learning experiences for children in the classroom."

At the summit, attendees will hear about the latest and most promising practices in early learning. Most states have or are developing quality rating and improvement systems, which also provide data for helping to identify where to invest early-care and education dollars.

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