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MSU personnel, materials help child cares succeed
CRAWFORD -- Mississippi State University is lending a hand and resources to help child care facilities earn and maintain high-quality standards through a statewide resource and referral network.
The MSU Extension Service oversees the Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral Network, which receives funding from the Mississippi Department of Human Services’ Division of Early Childhood Care and Development. The network supports parents, children, community members, and early care and education professionals seeking information about quality child care.
Louise Davis, network director and Extension specialist, said the Love and Learn Daycare in Crawford is an example of a facility taking advantage of the network. Love and Learn, which primarily serves low-income families, is a four-star-rated center within the Quality Rating and Improvement System.
“Child care facilities have the option to enroll in this program and allow MSU’s Early Childhood Institute to assess various aspects, such as center records, classroom environment, teacher certifications and staff-child interactions,” she said.
Davis said the star rating issued ranges from one to five.
“Love and Learn has sustained a four-star rating for the past three years, which is a huge feat alone, but couple that with the short supply of resources the center has on hand, and it’s an even greater accomplishment,” she said.
Out of 422 centers evaluated in Mississippi in 2012, seven received five-star ratings and 15 received four-star ratings.
Joyce Lowery started her child care business in the back room of her home 22 years ago. Today, the center has grown and is located in a building behind her residence. Receiving a two-star rating after the first year in the program, Lowery and her staff wanted to make modifications to improve the center’s rating each year.
“I wanted to have a place where people could bring their kids and know that they would be loved and cared for without any worry,” she said.
Lowery said she and assistant director Geraldine Farmer share a sincere passion for educating and caring for children.
Davis described Lowery and Farmer as true inspirations because after working all day with the children, they both are pursuing degrees at night. Lowery is completing her second degree, which will be in early-childhood education, and Farmer is three classes away from obtaining a master’s in counselor education.
“An essential key to Love and Learn’s educational programming success is their access to the resource and referral center located on MSU’s campus,” Davis said. “The Love and Learn staff members visit the MSU center many times throughout the year and go the extra mile to make a difference in many children’s lives.”
Davis said dedicated staff is essential to success, and the staff at Love and Learn deserves credit for earning the center’s high ratings.
“We have ideas of what we want to teach, and we don’t want to deviate from that, so if additional information is needed, we just go to the Resource and Referral Center on campus, and they assist us with supplemental materials for our lessons,” Farmer said.
“If there is training available somewhere, we are going,” she said. “We want to learn all that we possibly can to help our kids.”
Farmer said staff members are encouraged to think outside of the box while maintaining structure.
“The quality rating system provides an opportunity to evaluate and improve the center and enrich the children’s education,” she said. “The staff at Love and Learn is pleased to participate in the program.”