Knox County Head Start’s Gambier Child Care Center wins state’s highest, Five-Star Award for Excellence in early care and education
In recognition of its high-quality early care and education program and its ongoing commitment to children, Knox County Head Start’s Gambier Child Care Center (GCCC) has received Knox County’s first Five-Star “Step Up To Quality” Award from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services – Bureau of Child Care and Development, the state agency responsible for licensing and promoting high standards of Ohio’s child care centers.
The Gambier Child Care Center was built in 2007 by Kenyon College to provide a high quality early care and education option for college employees. Knox County Head Start operates the center on behalf of the college. More than 50 percent of children enrolled have parents who are Kenyon College employees, 30 percent are Head Start and Early Head Start participants or receive subsidy supports from the Knox County Department of Job and Family Services, and 20 percent enrolll from the Knox County community.
“We applaud the Gambier Child Care Center employees for their commitment to children. By going above and beyond Ohio’s minimum licensing standards, educators give young children the opportunity to grow and develop in a stimulating, nurturing environment,” said Peg Tazewell, executive director for KCHS.
Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) is Ohio’s quality rating and improvement system for licensed learning and development programs. SUTQ recognizes learning and development programs that exceed licensing health and safety standards. Program standards are organized into four domains: learning and development, staff qualifications and professional development, administrative and leadership practices, and family and community partnerships. By 2020, Ohio intends that all children served with public funds will be served in high-quality classrooms or family child care homes, defined as those environments rated at a Star Three or higher. For more information, visit www.earlychildhoodohio.org.
KCHS’s other centers are also rated through the SUTQ system: With four stars are Centerburg, Danville, Fredericktown, Mount Vernon’s New Hope Early Education Center and Northgate. All centers will be applying for a five star rating at annual renewal. Experts say these benchmarks improve the growth and development potential of children. The rating system gives parents a useful tool for selecting quality early childhood programs.
“The Gambier Child Care Center has truly partnered with us in the early education of our children. Not only have they provided exceptional learning opportunities, but the staff has taken individual interest in our children and family and collaborated with us to ensure the kids’ experiences at home and school are consistent,” explained GCCC parent Jessica Ryals. “From creative field trips to consistent outdoor play, the kids are still allowed to be kids, while benefiting from the intentional planning of their teachers. The combination of care for our children and dedication to their physical, social and emotional development has been invaluable to our family. From our interactions with the staff, we’ve obtained insight into the various stages of development which has positively impacted our parenting at home as well. Not only that, but our kids love attending and have great relationships with the staff and fellow students. We’re confident that our kids are in the best possible hands at GCCC.”
Celebrating 50 years locally and nationally, the comprehensive services of the Head Start program model are recognized as a key element to improving children’s lifelong learning and success. In President Obama’s recent State of the Union address, he called for more focus and dedicated work to ensure vulnerable children and families have access to high-quality care and education in their earliest years. The President’s FY’16 budget includes a commitment to expanding and strengthening child care and early education programs, Head Start specifically. Governor Kasich’s FY’16 budget proposal also includes expanded early education funding.
From a recent article that appeared on TheHill.com: “Nobel-prize winning economist James Heckman has suggested that the social-emotional development cultivated by programs that focus on more than simply academic skills may be the true contributor to long-term impacts of the program, and health benefits ranging from decreased child mortality to adult health behaviors also make a difference over a life-span. But the true motivator behind children’s success through elementary school and beyond very likely is their parents. By helping families who are struggling with poverty and other socio-economic challenges achieve their goals for education, employment and housing, Head Start and programs like it play a transformative role for two generations together.”
KCHS serves more than 490 children and families throughout Knox County, providing comprehensive services including educational activities supporting children’s readiness for kindergarten, and attention to children’s health, social-emotional, dental and nutritional needs, along with supports for parents in promoting family self-sufficiency. Services are provided to pregnant moms, infants, toddlers, preschool-aged children, and school-aged children, funded through the Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Children and Families Federal Head Start grants, with additional support from the United Way of Knox County and The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County.
For more information visit www.knoxheadstart.org, like Knox County Head Start, Inc. on Facebook or call (740) 397-1344.