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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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Eating habits developed early in a child’s life can impact their food choices when they become adults.  However, encouraging your preschooler to eat a healthy variety of food can be challenging! A wonderful tool to help parents tackle this issue is the ChooseMyPlate.gov website.

Parents have the biggest influence on their child and can help them develop healthy eating habits for life.  Here are some of the suggestions offered by MyPlate.

Set a good example.  Preschoolers love to copy what their parents do – your table manners, your likes and dislikes, your willingness to try new foods, and your physical activities. Let your child see you enjoying a variety of different foods.

Offer a variety of foods. This helps preschoolers get the nutrients they need from every food group. They will also be more likely to try new food and to like more foods. When preschoolers develop a taste for many types of foods, it’s easier to plan family meals.

Follow a meal and snack schedule. Plan for 3 meals and 1 or 2 snacks each day. Preschoolers often do not eat enough at a meal to stay full until the next mealtime. Make sure that the foods offered at each meal and snack contributes toward your child’s needs.

Help them know when they’ve had enough to eat. Kids who “listen” to their own fullness cues stop eating when they feel full and are less likely to become overweight. Give your kids a chance to stop eating when they feel full, even if you think they aren’t. They’ll feel more independent and you’ll help them keep a healthy weight.

Start with Small Amounts. Don’t insist that children finish all the food on their plate. Let your child know it is okay to only eat as much as he or she wants at that time.

Make mealtimes a Family time. Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young. This way, it becomes a habit.

Try this simple, healthy snack with your child.

Funny Fruit Pizzas               

Ingredients:  English muffins, peanut butter, margarine or light cream cheese, fruit (apple, banana, orange, seedless grapes, etc)

1. Have the children wash the fruit. They can peel bananas and oranges, pluck the grapes from their stem. An adult should cut all fruit into small pieces.

2. Split the English muffin. Give each child one half.

4. Have each child top the muffin with fruit pieces.

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Source:  ChooseMyPlate.gov  http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/index.html

No Battles, Better Eating for Kids, Food and Health Communications, Inc., 2002: 21.

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