High-Quality Child Care: It’s All About the Kids!

November 30, 2016

Four Stars

Northside resident Michelle Baggett has a knack for seeing a need and working to fill it. She began her career in education as a tutor and when family members expressed the need for daily child care for their children, she didn’t just volunteer to babysit; she took classes to learn the best way to care for and educate children. She liked child care so much that she decided to become a licensed child care provider able to care for up to six children in her home (defined by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services as a Type B Family Child Care Home).

Sixteen years later, as a result of her hard work and dedication, Michelle’s program has received four stars from the state of Ohio, becoming the first high-quality rated Type B family child care program in the City of Cincinnati.

Ohio’s Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) program, the voluntary quality rating and improvement system for early childhood programs, awards one- to five-stars to child care programs to indicate how they meet Ohio’s quality program standards. Having a three-star rating or above indicates “high-quality.”

 “It’s all for the betterment of the kids,” Michelle says as two preschool-age boys quietly play next to her with a toy cash register. During our conversation she pauses frequently to interact with the children. As an early childhood professional who is well-versed in child development, she knows that one of the best ways to help young children learn is to allow them to play and have fun, and to be intentional about the ways in which she interacts with them.

“Michelle’s commitment to providing the best care she can for children has motivated her to participate in different programs—many sponsored by 4C for Children—throughout her years in the field,” says 4C Quality Programs Specialist Josh Craig, who has worked with Michelle for several years.

One of Michelle’s first steps in ensuring she was offering quality care to children was signing up for the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program administered locally by 4C. The program offers reimbursement for nutritious meals served in child care settings. She also earned her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential after taking part in the 4C CDA Preparation Program.

Josh worked closely with Michelle to coach her through the steps needed to increase her quality rating. “She has always been willing to jump into new opportunities offered by 4C in order to keep up with best practices in child development and learning,” he says. “For instance, just recently she joined our ‘Motivating Stars Network,’ a group of Type B family child care providers who meet monthly to support each other on the journey to becoming quality rated.”

There are many ways that Michelle works to better serve parents and their children but perhaps she has been most impactful by providing care for second- and third-shift work schedules.

“I’ve switched shifts many times to meet the needs of parents,” she says. “In fact I’ve been asked recently if I would consider doing some first-shift care, so I might be changing again soon.”

Michelle is aware of the importance of initiatives like the Cincinnati Preschool Promise as a support for working families and as additional incentive and help for providers like her to achieve or raise their quality ratings. And she’s excited about future opportunities that may result from the national, state and local discussions about the importance of quality child care.

For Michelle, having a high-quality rating means that she is providing an invaluable support to her community, “I like that parents are able to go to work and feel comfortable leaving their children in an environment where they are safe and able to learn while still having fun.” Next step on her journey: five stars!