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July 16, 2009

ULM Child Development Center earns top five-star status from the state

The Child Development Center at the University of Louisiana at Monroe joined the elite ranks of centers earning the rare five-star rating from Quality Start, a state voluntary assessment system aimed at increasing the quality of childcare and early learning.

Quality Start officials said the recent designation makes the center a first for Ouachita Parish and one of only three in the entire state to earn similar recognition.

The other two 5-star centers are in Caddo and Lincoln Parishes.

Much like the other centers to receive five-star ratings, the ULM CDC provides quality care and education for young children in a lab setting, while also offering practical experiences to prepare professionals to thrive in various early childhood careers.

Unlike the other two centers, however, ULM’s Child Development Center is a full-time, year-round facility, according to Emily Williamson, ULM Child Development Center Director.

"When we got the call, it was such a validation of the hard work put in by our dedicated staff, year in and year out,” said Williamson. The five-star rating holds until 2011, according to state officials.

The goal of the Quality Start rating system is to increase the quality of childcare in the state and to give parents the ability to understand, assess and demand higher quality.

The program encourages high standards for childcare providers through assistance in the form of scholarships for staff education, training, increased reimbursement for children in the Child Care Assistance Program and tax benefits through the School Readiness Tax Credits.

Centers are assessed in several performance areas and then given a one to five-star rating based on a composite score.

Not only is ULM’s Child Development Center a premier provider of quality care for children from infancy to pre-Kindergarten age, they also have a unique LA-4 partnership with the Ouachita Parish School System which is one of the only all day partnerships of this type with a school system in the state.

“This means that children of families who qualify for the LA-4 preschool program and live in the Ouachita Parish school zone can attend the center and the LA-4 program pays their tuition,” said Williamson.

“We are thrilled that Quality Start has recognized our efforts with this exclusive designation,” she said.

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