The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs’ Child Care and Development Fund Program has officially launched the second year of its pilot program—Reach Higher, CNMI: Quality Rating and Improvement System—in an hourlong orientation and meeting with childcare providers.
According to CCDF administrator Maribel Loste, over 60 childcare providers and their directors participated in the orientation.
The first meeting was held at the San Antonio Social Hall, with Dr. Jasmin Jones of Evergreen Learning, Inc., program manager and QRIS assessor, facilitating the orientation.
Loste said they also reached out to caregivers and Gana Day Care, Golden Harvest Day Care, Holy Angel Day Care, Loving Hands Day Care, N.M.I.S., Pure Love Day Care, R & EQ Day Care, and Smart Start Nurturing Center were in attendance.
“We discussed the application process, timelines, dates to remember, onsite visits for baseline scores, onsite visits for determining Star Levels, Quality Improvement Plans, and coaching. The Quality Rating and Improvement System is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs in the Commonwealth,” Loste said.
Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter said the quality rating and improvement system began as a way to strengthen and increase the standards of childcare in the Commonwealth.
“The Childcare Licensing Program is responsible for licensing and inspecting all childcare services in the CNMI, family childcare, group care homes, and after-school programs. The QRIS pilot program helps inform our caregivers and ensure health and safety standards are being met. We acknowledge that with consistent outreach and caregiver training, we can increase the quality and access of caregiving for the community that is also reliable and affordable,” Hunter said.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres noted that the Childcare and Development Fund continues to be instrumental in assisting low-income families in accessing quality childcare while parents participate in job training or higher education.
“It is essential that parents have the opportunity to seek gainful employment while having safe, affordable, and reliable options for childcare. Oftentimes, all members of the household are seeking training, working, or doing both and need childcare support. I commend the CCDF program for honing in on improving childcare standards and implementing a rating system that parents and caregivers can rely on. Regulating childcare facilities protects families, our community and, most importantly, our children. I express my gratitude to the CCDF team for keeping the momentum of this pilot program going and reaching out to all our caregivers,” Torres said. (PR)