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Is Your Child’s Preschool Program Up to Quality?

SUTQ (Step Up To Quality) is Ohio’s quality rating and improvement system for early care and education.  It was implemented statewide in 2006 by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), the two entities who oversee the program.

SUTQ was designed to increase the number of highly qualified child care programs and help families identify programs that go beyond minimum state standards.

Providers may earn star ratings (up to 5 stars) as they meet criteria in each of the 5 levels.  Providers who achieve a 3-5 star designation are considered “highly rated” meaning they have met additional performance goals such as:

  • lower staff:child ratios
  • higher levels of education and training for staff
  • increased family engagement

As part of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, Ohio must meet the goal of having all licensed childcare providers who receive publicly funded child care subsidies to be star rated by 2020 and highly rated (3-5 stars) by 2025.  Providers who do not receive subsidies are not required to participate in SUTQ.

Current estimates report between 50-70% of all child care programs in Ohio are rated.  Many programs who have earned the “highly rated” status are part of larger school systems who have designated resources out of a district budget to assist with meeting the additional financial costs with earning star ratings.

Some private and home care providers are fearful that if they are financially unable to meet the requirements, they will lose funding and be forced to close their doors.  Unfortunately, private providers are typically the only option for parents who need evening, overnight or weekend care for their children.

Is my provider rated?

Ask your provider if they are star rated.  If they are, ask when they will be applying for their next rating.  If not, ask if they have a plan in place if their funding is not renewed.

Shop around for star rated programs.  Do some online searching and view inspection reports of child care providers through the ODJFS or ODE websites. Schedule visits and meet the staff – not just your child’s teacher! Remember that your child will have contact with other teachers throughout their day or week.

Ask the site about family engagement. Consider what that means to you, and to them. You should be invited to visit your child’s school often and feel welcome anytime.

If applying for a spot in a star-rated program, be prepared and know the deadlines for enrollment. Some sites will have open registrations and some charge fees to apply.  Have a backup plan if your provider closes or if something changes and you have to pay tuition.

Programs like SUTQ hold childcare providers accountable by ensuring that they hire well qualified and trained teachers, and that they engage families and build strong foundations for all children.

Look for the best childcare provider for your young learner – it will be worth it!

 

Sources:

Ohio Department of Education (2019). Step Up to Quality (SUTQ). http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Early-Learning/Step-Up-To-Quality-SUTQ

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2017). Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd/early-learning/race-to-the-top

 

Written by: Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Butler County, reister.6@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

 

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