PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT: Transforming Spaces with Accelerate Quality
Talk to any parent with young children, and they’ll probably tell you that out of all the things in their life they must juggle, finding quality childcare is at the top of that list. Between scheduling, location, and cost, it can be a more than overwhelming process. Accelerate Quality is a program that makes this process a little less overwhelming for families in Pima County. Anchored at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, the Accelerate Quality program works with eligible early care and education programs—preschools, childcare centers, and family childcare homes—to increase the number of high-quality spaces available for preschool-aged children.
About six months ago, the Accelerate Quality team began working with a new family childcare provider. She had recently graduated with a medical certificate and found her first job in the field, but she was struggling to find quality care for her two young children. The problem-solver that she is, she soon decided to open her own childcare program and worked with the Department of Economic Security (DES) to become a certified provider. DES informed her about Accelerate Quality and our team began working with her in late September of 2022. The team provided support with education about what quality looks like in early childhood spaces and helped with preparation for working with Quality First—Arizona’s quality improvement and rating system for early learning programs. Our new provider was up for the challenge—she read everything the team gave her and worked hard on both her environment and her interactions with the children in her care. The rearranging of furniture and utilizing materials she had in her home already was supplemented with funding provided from Accelerate Quality to make the space the best it could be. She also began working with Make Way for Books to improve literacy education and Smart Support to enhance the social and emotional climate in her program.
All this hard work has paid off—last week she was notified that she is now a 4-star rated Quality First program! This means that her families of preschool-aged children can now access the Pima County PEEPS tuition scholarships, which are designed to assist all income eligible families with the cost of attending high-quality preschool. On top of that, providing this quality program allows a 35% higher DES subsidy for the families that qualify for tuition reimbursement. The Accelerate Quality team is excited to share her story and the positive impact she will be making in our community for years to come.
United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona is proud to elevate such an important community initiative as we work collectively to improve educational and life outcomes for children, youth, and young adults by advancing equity and excellence in education.