August 1, 2013
The first child care ministry in Hancock County to embark on the state's voluntary Paths to QUALITY rating system with help from United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) has met 122 health and safety standards and is on its way to meet higher levels of quality, announced United Way.
The achievement also makes the Hancock County facility the largest ministry — with space for 240 children — to receive United Way's support to improve child care quality so far. United Way has committed to lead the charge for quality early child care for the next 10 years and is currently assisting more than 40 licensed centers and unregistered child care ministries that have voluntarily agreed to improve the quality of service they provide to children.
United Way invested $65,000 in Celebrations Child Care Ministry enabling the facility to enlarge classrooms to serve its recent growth in enrollment; to serve its growing enrollment; enhance lighting to lessen eyestrain and allow for better cleaning and disinfection; install hand washing sinks and flooring for healthier conditions in infant and toddler rooms; and, fence in the playground and install emergency exits.
"These are the kind of investments for the children in our care that we always wanted to make, " said Robin Lewis, director of Celebrations Child Care Ministry. "But until the United Way partnership, we had no way to afford it."
Lewis said United Way has also given her staff opportunities for added training in topics such as safe sleeping practices, how to identify maltreatment of children, along with understanding the steps to progress in the state's quality rating system.
Paths to QUALITY is Indiana's voluntary quality rating and improvement system for child care. This system is the first and only child care rating system in the state and identifies four levels of quality. Beginning at Level 1 – meeting basic health and safety standards – child care programs may progress to the highest level – Level 4, achieving national accreditation.
Having just achieved Level 1, the next step for Celebrations is having staff seek and earn credentials in child development to better support learning in the critical early years.
United Way's education investment to break the cycle of poverty starts before school and is based on research showing that quality child care matters, said Paula Jarrett, Hancock County's United Way director. Improving both the supply of and demand for high quality affordable child care is United Way's long-term plan.
So far, United Way has invested more than $3 million into this initiative and committed $12 million over the next 10 years, Jarrett reported. At the end of the 10-year project, UWCI will have helped a minimum of 110 child care programs achieve a rating of Level 3 or higher.
Throughout Hancock County, two licensed centers and 17 homes also participate in Paths to QUALITY.
United Way also advocates for public policy changes to improve early child care conditions. In the last session of the state legislature, four common sense changes in state law were enacted and took effect July 1.
Celebrations Child Care is located at 3565 South 500 West, also know as Gem Road in New Palestine, IN. They are currently enrolling children aged six weeks to 12 years of age. For more information call 317.861.0635.
Mary L. Kinney, Public, media relations manager
317.921.1224 or 317.498.0647 or
Kristian Little, Community Outreach Manager
317.921.1213 (business hours)