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Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Whitefish childcare center, Clear Skies, reaches highest level in Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program
Clear Skies Child Care/Preschool of Whitefish will be honored in Helena for reaching the highest level possible in the state’s Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced today.
Clear Skies director Lori Adams will be recognized on Monday, May 13 at 9:30 a.m. by Governor Steve Bullock during the second annual STARS Conference at the Holiday Inn Downtown in Helena.
“I congratulate Clear Skies and all childcare providers statewide who participate in this program,” Governor Steve Bullock said. “We know children involved in early education do better in math and English, and are much more likely to graduate from high school. It all starts with early education.”
Clear Skies has been in business in the Whitefish community for over 25 years and serves preschool age children. “Lori and her staff are very well qualified and she has long been committed to quality early childhood education,” DPHHS Director Richard Opper said. “The STARS program provides vital training for providers, which translates into a healthier and safer environment for children.”
Clear Skies is the first childcare provider in the state to achieve the STAR 5 level. “I cannot emphasize enough how hard working and dedicated my staff are to the children who attend Clear Skies,” Adams said. “This is a great accomplishment for us.”
Adams said participation in the Best Beginnings Stars to Quality Program has added tremendously to Clear Skies’ success. “The program has helped us both set and then maintain high quality standards,” she said.
She said incentives from the program have been used to pay for staff professional development, including conferences, online trainings, college course work and local trainings. “Through this type of training, my staff and I are then able to apply what we learn to improve the educational experience for the kids,” Adams said.
The program has also helped pay for improvements to the facility such as the installation of automatic faucets to improve sanitation practices for the children. “Having faucets that they never have to touch helps prevent the spread of germs and keeps kids healthy,” Adams said.
The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program launched a statewide field test in 2010 and offers incentives, coaching, technical assistance and training for participating childcare providers. Today, over 100 childcare providers from all over the state participate in the program.
Criteria must be met to participate in the program, and to move through the STARS system. To move up through the rating system, providers must have an Emergency Preparedness Plan and complete trainings that cover safe sleep, how to administer medication, mandatory reporting, immunization, infant toddler caregiver training, food safety, and inclusion. Other trainings focus on business administration, the learning environment and curriculum, and the social and emotional development of young children.