In January, the first cohort of 10 child care centers graduated from the Niagara County Early Child Care Quality Improvement Project’s professional development certificate program.
This past Wednesday (Sept. 26), 10 more joined them, becoming Niagara QIP Ambassador Centers in the process.
“Quality care begins with them,” said Lynnette Haley O’Stewart, Niagara QIP director, “as they (staff and directors) are the gatekeepers to quality.”
Established as a collaborative initiative by Niagara University, the United Way of Greater Niagara, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the Niagara Area Foundation and local business leaders, the Niagara QIP has made significant strides in enhancing the kindergarten readiness skills of more than 400 children in Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda and Lockport.
The 10 child care centers that were part of the Niagara QIP’s first cohort are now in the sustainability phase of the program, while the other half completed their initial year of “active engagement” during a ceremony held Wednesday evening in Bisgrove Hall.
During that event, 27 child care staff and directors from the following child care centers received certificates of completion:
- Bunny Bunch Day Care (7181 Ward Rd., North Tonawanda)
- Bunny Bunch Day Care (7334 Townline Rd., North Tonawanda)
- Bunny Bunch Day Care (2578 Niagara Falls Blvd., Wheatfield)
- Heart of a Child (4001 McKoon Ave., Niagara Falls)
- Kiddie Haven (1333 Strad Ave., North Tonawanda)
- Little Rascals (6698 Lincoln Ave., Lockport)
- Niagara Falls Housing Authority UPK (Doris Jones Family Resource Building)
- Niagara Falls Housing Authority UPK (Harry F. Abate Elementary School)
- Small World Too (6930 Williams Road, Niagara Falls)
- Small World Too (3793 Commerce Court, Wheatfield)
The project is slated to begin working with 10 additional child care centers this fall.
Funding for the three-year, $625,000 program is provided by the Grigg-Lewis Foundation and The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.
In just the past year and a half, the Niagara QIP has profoundly changed the landscape for child care in Niagara County. Other program highlights include:
- Twenty-five child care providers (directors and teachers) from the first cohort completed a 45-hour professional development certificate course in early childhood education, graduating from the program Jan. 18, 2012. The second cohort will add 27 graduates.
- More than 100 child care providers have participated in short-course professional development activities.
- A team of 14 graduate students in Niagara University’s school psychology program conducted pre-school readiness assessments and will carry out post-assessments as well. A new team will be established this fall.
- Child care centers are now a placement for students participating in Niagara University’s Learn and Serve and field placement programs.
- An external review of Cohort 1 found statistically significant improvements in all participating sites in both the ECERS (learning environment and teachers’ behavior assessments) and ESI (school readiness assessments).
- A director’s forum has been established, allowing child care professionals to meet with colleagues quarterly.
In keeping with its commitment to early childhood and the critical nature of early development and cognition, Niagara University’s College of Education offers a master’s degree program in early childhood and special education (birth – grade 2) to support the project and has included candidates in the school psychology program in the assessment components of the QIP.
For more information on the Niagara County Early Child Care Quality Improvement Project, please contact Haley O’Stewart at 716.286.8567 or ude.aragainnull@yelahl.
To learn more about NU’s College of Education, please visit www.niagara.edu/education.