STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State University's Early Childhood Institute continues its administration of the Mississippi Child Care Quality Rating System, thanks to a new multimillion dollar grant.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services' Division of Early Childhood recently awarded $2,048,248 for the Quality Stars program. The funding supports supervision of quality standards assurance for early-care and education centers throughout the state.
The voluntary program is designed to measure the quality of care provided by licensed child-care centers in the areas of program administration, learning environments, professional development, evaluation, and parent involvement.
"Children who experience long-term sustained high quality early learning experiences are more prepared socially, emotionally and academically for kindergarten than their peers who are in low-quality centers, or children who have no early learning experience at all prior to kindergarten," said Lynn Darling, ECI director.
The current participation rate is 33 percent, the second highest rate in the South among states with voluntary, tiered quality rating and improvement systems, she added.
Darling said research consistently has demonstrated how high-quality early childhood care and education is associated with grade-level performance on standardized tests, as well as reductions in behavioral problems, grade retention and teen pregnancy. Children in the programs also are more likely to complete high school and seek higher education.
A unit of MSU's College of Education, the ECI was established in 1999 to provide training, technical assistance and applied research for improved quality and accessibility of early care and education across Mississippi.
Located at 46 Blackjack Road, the institute serves communities statewide through programs focusing on improving quality of early childhood education, providing professional development for early childhood professionals and engaging the community in supporting young children. For more information, visit http://earlychildhood.msstate.edu/.