FCCAM shared what Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network is on a previous post. Now it’s time to try to clarify that QRIS and MRTQ PDN are not the same!
“Quality for ME” QRIS is not about the individual provider, but rather the program. MRTQ PDN registry is about the individual, not the program.
Most states have a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) that includes family child care. There is a QRIS National Learning Network, but no national QRIS system at this time.
“Quality for ME” is Maine’s quality rating and improvement system. It is often just referred to by “QRIS”.
Quality for ME is a voluntary program that is divided into 4 step levels. Each step is seen as an improvement in the quality of program being offered. Programs must complete an application to enter the program and find out what step their program qualifies for. Programs are accessed on a rating scale developed by the state. Requirements must be met at each level before proceeding to a higher level. Enrollment in Quality for ME must be renewed every 3 years.
Why does Maine have a quality rating system?
A quality rating system is structured to raise quality of care offered all children. This is done by building awareness in the wider community of what quality care entails. A quality rating system provides a tool to help recognize child care programs that provide quality care. It provides parents with identifiable standards of quality they can use to compare programs when looking for care that meets their needs. QRIS also helps a state measure how well their supports to the child care system are working.
While Maine has equal standards across the child care system, Quality for ME standards recognize there are differences in environment and program structure that need to be addressed while maintaining the common aspects of quality programs.
Child Care Centers
Family Child Care Homes
Head Start Programs
What do the Steps/rating levels mean?
First, every program that chooses to participate in Quality for ME volunteers to have their quality assessed on a 4-step rating scale. All requirements must be meet for each step before moving to a higher level. While every step measures quality based on the following criteria, the unique aspects of programs found in Maine are respected.
- Licensing compliance history
- Learning environment
- Program evaluation
- Staff development
- Administrative policies and procedures
- Family involvement
- Community resources
- Child observation
Step 1 – A program is in good standing with child care licensing with provider and all staff being enrolled in the Maine Roads to Quality Registry.
Step 2 – With this step, a program has some policies, procedures and staff qualifications that are above what licensing requires.
Step 3 – Building off Step 2, this program will have additional policies, procedures and staff qualifications above licensing around parent conferences, staff evaluations, and written daily communications for infant and toddlers.
There are Step 3 programs that meet the requirements of Step 4 for higher level of experience and education in early childhood education and actively utilize Maine’s Early Learning Standards and/or Infant/Toddler Early Learning Guidelines. These Step 3 programs have chosen not to seek accreditation.
Step 4 – This is the top step for Maine. To achieve Step 4 a program has to be accredited by a recognized national organization.
Benefits of being part of Quality for ME?
In Maine all programs offering care to more than 2 children need to be licensed. Programs participating in Quality for ME provide a recognized level of care beyond that required by licensing. Families are aware that your program maintains a documented level of quality. This can help in marketing your program.
As more and more families use childcarechoices.me to search for child care in Maine, there is value in being higher on the listing. If families do a filtered search, only programs on Quality for ME show.
Any program that accepts subsidy payment needs to be on Quality for ME. Programs at a higher Step will see reimbursement rates that are above the base rate recognizing quality of program.
For programs on Step 4, families are eligible for a double tax credit for child care expenses on their Maine Income Tax return. This can be a strong marketing point for families.
Through commitment to continual learning and providing a quality program for children in care families develop an appreciation for your professionalism. You are advocating for your chosen profession. You are an early childhood professional, understanding the importance quality has in building the strong foundation children need to grow and develop.
There have been opportunities for grants for programs to improve their programing, environment and educational degree work in the past. There is possibility of this type of grant opportunity to be available in future.
Before Quality for ME, Maine had a “Certificate of Quality” that programs could apply for. A Quality Assessment Team reviewed the results of the Child Care Environment Checklist (CCEC) which was completed during a lengthy site observation of your program. The CCEC was developed jointly by Child Care Licensing and the Office of Child Care and Head Start. It was roughly based on the Family Day Care Rating Scale (FDCRS) with 57 items and 6 subscales. The subscales were: environment, health and safety, listening/communicating/reasoning, learning activities, interaction, and parent and staff needs. A “Certificate of Quality” was awarded a program that scored high enough. These certificates were renewable. Families in a program with the certificate were able to take advantage of a state tax break around child care expenses. Programs with a “Certificate of Quality” were not grandfathered into Quality for ME when Maine instituted this new QRIS system. Programs had to apply and go through the new system to earn Step levels. Not all “Certificate of Quality” program chose to do this.
If at any time you have questions about Quality for Me there is support for you. FCCAM has members willing to help peers through the application process, sharing how their programs compiled. MRTQ PDN also has free technical assistance (TA) available for programs.