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Child care quality improves

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RALEIGH, N.C. – Quality ratings for early-child-care programs across North Carolina have risen by a third in the past five years, a new study says.

Regulated child-care programs, those that fall within the state’s five-star rating system, have shown continuous improvement statewide, with a 33 percent increase in quality ratings since 2001, says the annual benchmark evaluation of child-care programs released by the North Carolina Partnership for Children.

Nearly six in 10 children are enrolled in programs with at least a three-star rating, compared to slightly more than three in 10 in 2001.

“Ideally, every county would have at least a 3.25 star rating,” says Sue Totty, program and planning director at the partnership.

The evaluation is based on 23 criteria chosen as indicators of child success that cover health, family support, early care and education services as provided to state regulators by each program, she says.

Criteria include teacher-education levels, the number and quality of teacher-child interactions, and time spent in age-appropriate play.

The partnership is the governing body of North Carolina’s early-childhood-education initiative Smart Start, whose local offices work to improve the overall quality of child care programs and provide teacher and parent support.

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