ACCELERATE QUALITY

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Increasing the supply of high-quality early care and education in Pima County.

What is Accelerate Quality? 

The Accelerate Quality program anchored at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona is committed to increasing the supply of high-quality early care and education opportunities for young children in Pima County so that all children, get off to a strong start in learning and life.

Research has shown that sustained high-quality early care and education helps close achievement gaps and results in lasting long-term adult outcomes such as higher wages and better health. High-quality early care and education also provides an opportunity for children to be nurtured in a stable environment while their parent(s) join the workforce.

A high-quality equitable early learning system is essential in addressing systemic educational inequities in the community and because of this, United Way rolled out the Accelerate Quality program in 2021. Accelerate Quality is working to increase the supply of high-quality settings so that families have options where to enroll their children.

 In collaboration with private donors and community partners, United Way is raising funds to increase the supply of high quality early care and education learning sites for young children throughout Pima County so that parents and caregivers have a variety of options that meet their needs. These funds are administered through the Accelerate Quality program and are utilized by qualifying nonprofit and/or school based child care centers and/or licensed family group homes depending on their needs and available resources.

Goals
  • Increase the number of sites that are high-quality, using the AZDES (Arizona Department of Economic Security) definition of high quality (3-5 Star or accreditation).
  • Increase the number of high-quality slots for children ages 3-5 years of age.
  • Increase the number of children enrolled in high-quality care and education.
  • Increase high-quality childcare options for families, including options closer to their own neighborhoods or place of work.
Accelerate Quality Provides
  • Increase the number of sites that are high-quality, using the AZDES (Arizona Department of Economic Security) definition of high quality (3-5 Star or accreditation).
  • Increase the number of high-quality slots for children ages 3-5 years of age.
  • Increase the number of children enrolled in high-quality care and education.
  • Increase high-quality childcare options for families, including options closer to their own neighborhoods or place of work.
Program Highlights
  • One child care center in southern Tucson turned an unused room into a classroom, providing a four star learning environment to 17 more preschool aged children.
  • One child care center in southern Tucson achieved a three-star rating, positively impacting 100 children.
  • One child care center in midtown achieved a four-star rating, positively impacting 150 children.
  • One newly-opened center on the east side received classroom bookshelves and ample age-appropriate books to positively impact 59 children.
  • One rural child care center received outdoor equipment to support 65 children develop their gross-motor skills.
Strategies

Quality Rating Preparation: Early care and education (ECE) sites can receive coaching to help attain a quality rating through First Things First Quality First system and/or achieve accreditation.

Expansion: High quality ECE sites may have the ability to add additional classrooms or convert unused spaces so they can serve more children but may lack the funding to help prepare the room to meet health and licensing standards.

Classroom materials: Existing high quality child care providers may need replenishment of classroom materials, ranging from books to cots, which can be costly and fall outside the normal operating budget.

Outdoor learning: Exposure to nature and all the benefits it provides young children is a key aspect of high quality early care and education but requires time and materials.

Staff training and compensation: High quality early learning requires consistent professional  development for all staff and may involve professional trainers, meals, substitutes and/or childcare.

Facility In-kind/Partner site match: Personnel expenses are the largest expense for a childcare site and the next highest category is rent and utilities. Do you have unused leased space that can be converted into a high quality learning center for your workforce?

Supported in part by:

How We Can Help

If you run an Early Childhood Learning Center – you can apply for Assistance from Accelerate Quality today!

Download a flyer to share with your network and Early Childhood Programs:

How You Can Help

1. Partner with United Way to maximize resources and help reach more children through partnerships.

2. Share our successes with your network and find more advocates for children.

3. Collaborate by attending meetings or make connections that enhance opportunities.

4. Support a community-wide early childhood agenda.

5. If you’d like to partner with Accelerate Quality or know of an early childhood program that could benefit, contact us by emailing Lela Messick at: lmessick@unitedwaytucson.org