Press Releases

Local Childcare Centers Hailed for Quality

November 01 2010

ROANOKE, VA – NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Quality early education matters. Now, Roanoke's parents have two additional childcare centers from which to choose and feel confident that their children are in a great learning environment. One Step Further Childcare Center and Northwest Child Development Center, both located in the Northwest neighborhood of the City of Roanoke, recently received a 3-Star Quality Rating from the Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI). The VA Star Quality Initiative (VSQI) is a state-wide system designed to assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early care and education settings. Participation in the VSQI is voluntary, and programs that participate demonstrate their commitment to quality beyond basic expectations and licensing requirements. This rating puts these two centers in line with 190 other early learning centers rated throughout the state, which are already touted for their quality learning environments through this system.

The assurance of quality has become even more important during these tough economic times when over 60% of families with two working parents rely on various forms of childcare for their young children. Both local programs serve a large number of low-income, working families who receive government subsidies and scholarships in order to make ends meet, but these programs refused to let that become an excuse for poor quality. Instead, they volunteered to participate in a quality rating and improvement process, supported by Smart Beginnings of Greater Roanoke, that helps train and support early childhood teachers and programs. The commitment to excellence from NWCDC and One Step Further is starting to pay off and is making quality childcare accessible and affordable for the neighborhood they serve. These programs are providing many of these young children the skills they need to be successful in school and in life, giving them the opportunity not to become one of the approximately 20% of young children in Roanoke Valley who show up in unprepared for kindergarten.

"For years, we've been going to various workshops and classes offered locally to help us stay up to speed with best practices for quality childcare. But we wanted to do more; we knew the children in our care deserved more. Participating in the mentoring and quality improvement efforts through the SQI has helped us take all that head knowledge and put into action every day. It's helping us to be the best we can be as early childhood professionals." share Rhonda DeJesus, Director at One Step Further Childcare Center.

At Northwest Child Development Center, Director La'Kisha Jones said, it takes a commitment from everyone in the organization to be a quality center. "The SQI helps you step back and think about how to make learning fun for children at every opportunity in their daily routine; whether they're in the classroom, in the hallway or outside. Every adult in a center is involved in the children learning, not just the teachers; so it's important for everyone to know that the way they interact with children even in a brief period, can reinforce that."

"Parents can be assured that the staff at our VSQI programs in Roanoke are trained to implement the most effective strategies for early learning success", says Kris Meyers, Program Manager for Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke. "We are extremely proud of our VSQI programs for their commitment to doing what is best for young children."

There are currently 12 early childhood programs participating in the VA Star Quality Initiative throughout the Greater Roanoke Region, including full day childcare centers, Head Start programs and faith–based preschools, with more programs joining the process in 2011. Research shows that children with access to high quality early learning experiences are more likely to acquire the skills they need to enter kindergarten ready for school success.
Funding for the local implementation of VSQI is made possible through grant funds from the Virginia Department of Social Services, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, United Way of Roanoke Valley, Foundation for Roanoke Valley, City of Roanoke, Ceres Foundation, Barnhardt Foundation & The Landmark Foundation.

For a complete list of programs participating in the VSQI or for additional information, contact Kris Meyers, Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke - Program Manager at 540.283.2786 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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"The impact of our community's collective efforts around school readiness through Smart Beginnings has captured the attention of many people around the world. It demonstrates that positive changes can happen when we are focused, and collect quality data for the same outcomes in a coordinated and collaborative manner."


 Frank Rogan, United Way of Roanoke Valley president & CEO

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The United Way of Roanoke Valley serves as the fiscal agent for Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke.

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