06/13/04 — Smart Start program

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Smart Start program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 13, 2004 2:05 AM

High quality child care can pay off in dividends, not just for families of young children but for those giving the care.

Wayne County Partnership for Children, sponsor of Smart Start, has a new program designed to help providers offer the best quality childcare.

Called the Bonus Incentive program, centers that qualify can earn funding based on "good things" they are doing while serving young children.

Melissa Sutton, program specialist, said that regulated centers serving children from birth to age 5 can qualify, unless they are federally-funded.

Because they are regulated by the state, facilities have at least one visit per year from their licensing consultant, she said. During the visit, several criteria are used and recorded.

She said some of the indicators used in the program include star rating, teacher education level, sanitation scores, and the facility's history of complying to the state regulations.

Centers can apply for the program after the state's yearly visit is completed. Points can be earned for the items on the list, which must be documented and verified. The more points a center earns, the more money is possible.

The money can be used to purchase more learning materials, to help teachers return to college, or provide salary bonuses to employees for a job well done, she said. The bonus can only be earned once per year.

"To date," Ms. Sutton said, "over 50 facilities in Wayne County have benefited from the program. Awards have ranged from $10 to over $900."

Questions about the program can be directed to the Partnership at 735-3371.