Dear S.E.L.A. Families,
As outstanding child care and development center, Sunflower Early Learning Academy will be applying for ExceleRate Illinois, a program that uses an official quality rating system to evaluate child care centers. To differentiate other child care centers that are licensed through DCFS, the program is designed to award the quality of S.E.L.A.’s methods and operations to ensure every child’s success. With obtaining the circle of quality, our center will be referred by Illinois Action for Children to families that are in search of the best quality child care.
We would like to describe the process and the benefits of the program. S.E.L.A. will be evaluated by a professional from ExceleRate Illinois. The categories will be evaluated in all areas of our facility from classrooms to the administration office, with the main goal in mind of ensuring children’s growth intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally. With positive changes and hard work from our center, we will be receiving a circle of quality to prove our distinction in providing the best quality care and education for our children and families.
There are three levels of distinction: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. S.E.L.A. will be evaluated on a scale from 1-7 with 5-7 being Gold standard. Excellent care and performance will be evaluated with higher distinction from Bronze and up to Gold, highest level of distinction. Obtaining the Gold Circle of Quality is not an easy task as it requires a lot of hard work and dedication from our staff members. Child care centers that are awarded the Gold Circle of Quality are the best in the state and provide the best possible care and education to your children.
There are four important categories along with other categories are evaluated: Family Support and Involvement, Family Communications, Screening and identification of Special Needs, Staff Development.
Family communication is another key factor. During orientation, families must be provided with detailed written information about the center’s policies, methods of teaching, operations, and costs. It is also important to point out key information about a child’s traits towards their development such as strengths and weaknesses. An enhanced orientation is beyond that point and providing a full facility tour and allowing families to have a thorough understanding of the center. To ensure that the best service has been provided, make sure to include concrete evidence such as written documents and witnesses. To receive the gold standard, the center must check with newly registered families within 45 days of enrollment, implement procedures such as changing nap times or meals in both center and home settings, communicating with families using at least eight methods, and providing a method for families to communicate with teaching staff.
Screening and identification of special needs ensure the best quality of child care. Through screening, we can identify children with potential challenges in learning or development. Safeguards must include screenings conducted by qualified professionals, multiple sources of evidence used such as parent input or staff input, and children screened in their primary languages. Those with special needs are given a “special plan” are changes made by teaching staff in regards to classroom activity and daily schedules. Like family communications, it is important to include concrete evidence of support collaboration with specialists such as written evidence or witnesses. To obtain a gold standard, the safeguards must be followed to protect against misidentification, developing special plans must involve the parents based on the screening process and must be documented in the children’s files, and a system is in place to support collaboration with specials that are working with children with special needs.
Lastly, staff development is a category of importance. To ensure the best staff, the training model needs to address an individual’s specific training needs and an action plan to meet those needs. Like family communication and screening, document evidence is required. To ensure gold standard, job-specific staff development is provided such as administrators receiving training on budgeting and teachers receive training on positive guidance, the model of training needs to be utilized, and there must be a system to support the career development of teaching and administrative staff.
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