Every family child care program in Maine is now required to participate in “Quality for ME”, which is Maine’s QRIS. There are initiative grants currently available through MRTQ-PDN for programs if they move up the current Steps.
There is support for providers as they enroll their program in Quality for ME from MRTQ-PDN. FCCAM PLC also has members willing to help peers through the application process, sharing how their programs comply.
“Quality for ME” is Maine’s quality rating and improvement system. It is often just referred to by “QRIS”.
Quality for ME was a voluntary program, but in the new FCC Licensing all programs will be required to participate. Quality for ME is currently structured as 4 Step levels. Quality for ME will be reintroduced as Rising Stars for ME later in 2021. There will be some change in what is required for each level. There will also be 5 levels. The top level will still require national accreditation.
Whether Step or Star a movement up a level is seen as an improvement in the quality of program being offered. Programs are accessed on a rating scale developed by the state with all requirements being met at each level before proceeding to a higher level.
Currently programs must complete an application to enter Quality for ME. Through this fairly quick process programs will be placed on the step their program currently qualifies for.
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.
Here’s a quick overview:
*Programs that accept subsidy payment will see reimbursement rates that are above the base rate recognizing quality of program at a higher Step/Star .
*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.
Let’s look at what you should see as you apply for Quality for ME……….
Now you will start getting questions about your program…………………..
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.
Here’s a link to the report on the Rising Stars for ME pilot.