When you start looking into preschools or other early childcare programs, you may see the Paths to Quality logo on their brochures, windows, or websites.
But what exactly does that mean?
What is Paths to Quality?
Paths to Quality is a voluntary, statewide quality rating and improvement system for early education and care in the state of Indiana. The program is similar to other Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) programs that are being used in other states.
The system has four ranks that build on each other. Providers start at level 1, then work up through the ranks to level 4 accreditation. The goal is to not only rank providers, but also provide a system to help them improve.
Why is Paths to Quality Important?
High quality early childhood programs are about more than just keeping your children busy during the day. Research has shown that the first 5 years are the most important time for your child’s brain development. High quality early childhood programs help get the most out of that development to prepare you children for more success later in their lives.
And the benefits are for more than just the children. Research has shown that high quality early childhood programs provide stability and confidence to parents, allowing them to be more effective at work and have less stress in their lives.
Want to find out more about the importance of early childhood programs? Purdue University ran a study from 2008 to 2011 to gauge the effectiveness of the Paths to Quality program and early education. Click here to find out more!
What do the Ratings Mean?
The Paths to Quality ranks build on one another. Unlike grading standards (like restaurant grades), the ranks give providers a way to improve themselves. By the time a provider reaches level 4, they’re nationally accredited for providing quality early education based on a number of key factors. Here’s a quick breakdown of the ranks.
Level 1 – Providers voluntary join at level 1 with a goal to improve the quality of their care and education. Level 1 providers meet all health and safety standards.
Level 2 – Providers at this level meet all of the level 1 standards, and additionally offer environments that support the growth, development, and learning of the children.
Level 3 – To go from level 2 to level 3, a provider needs to implement a curriculum designed to support the learning and school-readiness of the children.
Level 4 – This is the highest ranking, showing the provider’s commitment to the highest level of care. At this point the provider becomes a nationally accredited early childhood education school.
For more details about the Paths to Quality program and their ranking system, you can check out the official website.