Youngstar-has it been effective for Wisconsin?

Some of you may not have children old enough to remember early childhood education BEFORE Youngstar, or have worked in the field long enough to remember, but for those of us who can remember what early childhood education was like before Youngstar take a minute to think about it……… Has the quality rating and improvement system that the government put in place worked? Has the quality of early childhood education risen over the past six years since Youngstar was implemented? Have teachers of early childhood education received more recognition and consequently higher wages? Are parents better able to choose the best child care for their children?

The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families recently published a report written by Dave Edie answering these very questions. You can find the full report here:

http://www.wccf.org/publication/youngstar-recent-research-tell-us-2/

For those of you who don’t have the time or the inclination to read the full report here is the “gist” of it. The most important finding was that the system, Youngstar, does really reflect difference in quality, basically a 2 star program is really lower quality than a 5 star program. For those of you (which is everyone able to read this J) who have children in a 5 star program this is good news! This means that you ARE actually getting what you are paying for. What is the major difference between a 2 star and a 5 star? Many, many, things…… teacher and administration qualification, curriculum provided, daily teacher-child interactions, health and safety standards, wellness and nutrition provided, etc…..

Another interesting point that the article mentioned in the introduction was that the study did not address the impact of Youngstar of the marketplace for early care and education, meaning does Youngstar create a higher demand for 5 star services. Although this evaluation did not study this, in theory, yes Youngstar is supposed to create higher demand for 5 star services, leading to waiting lists for 5 star centers, which in turn would allow those centers to raise their prices so that they can pay teachers higher wages, which would lead to less turn over and better stability amongst the workforce, also leading to higher quality. See how it is all supposed to work together?

So, parents please rest easy. Know that your hard earned money is in fact going to a worthy cause. Not even mentioned in this study are the long term effects of high quality care on children. The long term effects of high quality care on children are so dramatic that even the Federal Reserve Bank is saying that we should invest more in high quality early childhood education because the gains in the future are so substantial (reduced costs of crime and public supports). Although it may not seem like, the money you are putting towards your child’s early childhood education may be the best investment you ever make!

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