glances up from his preschool class computer, pausing from
a game featuring a rabbit and a hare to answer a question.
he says politely.
floor, another child offers without prompting: "J-E-R-E-M-I-
A-H," as he and a friend play with a cash register stuffed
with fake bills.
preschool class, as in every room at the Hope Center, the
play-and-learn area is spacious, bright and inviting. There
are science and music areas, an art area, a "cozy corner"
for respite, and the main attraction, a Young Explorer computer
center for 175 children ages 2 1/2 to 8 is one example of
what a Colorado nonprofit group rates a four-star day-care
it calls an unprecedented effort to help parents find the
best available day care for their children, Educare Colorado
has launched a rating list.
The list gives more than 100 child care and preschool programs
statewide a ranking of one to four stars, based on an evaluation
ranging from basic health and safety to adult-to-child ratios,
teacher training, learning environment and support for parents.
is a brand new thing. Nobody in the country has done anything
like this," said Stacy Baum, a vice president of Educare.
are searchable at the Educare website and provide detailed
information about the day-care facilities and homes that agreed
to participate in published ratings.
62 percent of the rated programs are child care centers, and
the rest are home providers. They represent a fraction of
state- licensed child care facilities: about 10 percent of
the centers, and less than 10 percent of the homes, Baum said.
hopes to triple the number of participants within the next
some child-care providers chose not to have their ratings
published, so the group's ratings are limited to those who
agreed to be evaluated and to have that evaluation listed
that the participants are child-care providers who were confident
enough in their existing programs to voluntarily accept an
will be updated annually.
really about quality improvement," Baum said. "We're
not just leaving them out there with a rating."
four stars, a child care program must have "many fun
activities and regular communication with parents," plus
"a strong curriculum that addresses the social, emotional,
physical and academic needs of each child."
Center was one of about a dozen programs statewide that received
Educare's top ranking.
Brantley, the program's executive director, said the Hope
Center was converted from an old grocery store in north Denver
into a nationally accredited program with multiple grant sources,
a highly trained staff and volunteers who read to children
in its well-stocked reading room.
teach a kid to read, and you open the world up for that child,"
Child Development Center, while the children napped on futons,
Elsie Ulloa pointed out the soft toys, boxes of blocks, puzzles
and other learning materials that her facility offers.
received two stars from Educare, which said staff members
needed more training, and adult-to-child ratios were high.
think it's good," Ulloa said of the rating system. "It
lets us know where we're at. It helps us to help the children,
and to help ourselves."
agency, the Colorado Department of Human Services, licenses
thousands of child-care homes and centers statewide and tracks
any complaints made concerning these facilities. It does not
rate child-care programs.