Excellence in education: Nevada County early childhood educators recognized | TheUnion.com

Excellence in education: Nevada County early childhood educators recognized

Forty-seven child care and education programs and over 114 educators were honored Saturday by Early Quality Matters, a quality and rating system developed by Quality Counts California.

Saturday's event celebrated local early childhood educators who demonstrate excellence in their fields, including early childhood education centers, family child care homes, family resources centers, and home visiting programs.

Among those honored were Grass Valley school district early childhood education centers Our Kids Place and Grass Valley Little Learners. The list also included Monalee's Preschool, Amy's Play Care and Little Leapers Childcare among dozens of others.

First 5 California executive director Camille Maben was on hand to serve as keynote speaker. Maben's First 5 is a program created by voters under Proposition 10 to recognize children's health and education are a top priority, especially in the early years of development.

"For the first time ever," said local Early Quality Matters planning council coordinator Rossnina Dort, "First 5 and the California department of education got together and said, we need to have a unified voice and a statewide system to improve and assess childcare programs, especially for children 0 to 5 years of age.

"What we do is provide enhancements and support systems to the child care programs themselves, as well as provide educational opportunities for teachers to advance their professional development. If they take courses or workshops then they also receive stipends. We provide stipends and any type of networking and coaching opportunities."

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Dort encouraged early childhood education providers to reach out and take advantage of Early Quality Matters. Becoming a member of the collaborative is free, but Dort said there is a lot of work and time involved to be a member.

Of the educators recognized during Saturday's ceremony, Dort said: "We're honoring them because this a voluntary program, to go above and beyond licensing. These teachers are very intentional and they understand that there are higher stakes here."

Grass Valley School District is among the 33 programs rated, Dort explained, with 11 programs in the county being rated a tier 5 — the top score a provider can receive for excellence in the overall learning experience.

"If we want high quality (education), that's going to happen with the workforce," Dort said. "If you want a game changer you are going to have to invest in early childhood. That's how you change children's outcomes, especially those (who are) low income. The earlier we can see that a child might need help, the better we are in the long run."

Early Quality Matters serves as the local Quality Rating and Improvement System for Quality Counts California, a statewide improvement initiative meant to ensure high quality care and education for young children.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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