Qualistar's mission is to elevate the quality of early childhood education in Colorado by improving everyday practice of professionals, and by building safe, supportive environments. We provide assessments, training, grants and scholarships, and technical assistance to licensed providers, collaborating with state and local entities to efficiently and effectively deliver solutions across the state. We continually scan Colorado’s early childhood landscape to identify gaps in quality and drive development of systems focused on quality improvements. We are advocates for high quality in early care and education, working to raise awareness and promote its importance across our state.
In 2004, Qualistar was formed through the merger of CORRA and Educare. The goal was to combine quality rating with a statewide delivery system to support parents in choosing quality programs and to provide resources for the providers of these programs to increase quality.
Qualistar (Educare) has been the voice for quality in early childhood education for nearly two decades. The concept of a quality rating for child care was developed in the early 2000s in response to the growing need to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early education and school‐age care programs. In those early years, the Qualistar Rating® was among the first in the nation setting an example for now more than 40 states across the US that have a statewide rating system.
Today, early childhood education programs participating in Colorado’s rating system, Colorado Shines, have agreed to meet standards that exceed the state’s licensing requirements, and they are committed to improving the quality of care provided to children. We are proud to have been part of the drive toward increased quality and we are dedicated to supporting those programs that want to improve as well as those who have not yet started the conversation.
Currently, only 15 percent of licensed programs are rated high quality (levels 3-5) according to Colorado Shines. 85% are either not engaged and/or low quality. Our goal is to move this 85% up the quality ladder by providing assessment, training, grants and scholarships, and technical assistance. When children experience high-quality early childhood education, they enter kindergarten ready to succeed.
Our programs and services include:
Assessment: Qualistar offers a variety of early childhood assessments designed to help providers along their quality improvement journey. Not only do assessments provide a baseline measurement of quality, but they can also gauge ongoing progress. Qualistar assessments can even help boost a provider’s Colorado Shines scores, and may increase access to quality improvement funding.
Assessments available through Qualistar include:
- Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®)
- Environment Rating Scale (ERS®)
- Program Administration Scale (PAS®)
- Family Child Care Quality Certificate
- School-Age Rating
Training: At Qualistar, we believe those delivering the everyday experiences in the classroom and on the playground, deserve high-quality training, development and support. We adhere to the highest standards when it comes to the quality of our trainings. Each training offers hands-on, engaging activities and content, which participants can implement immediately in their programs. Using our proprietary “Explore, Practice, Plan” model, Qualistar offers professional development opportunities tailored to adult learning styles.
Our trainings are focused in three main areas:
- Teaching Practices
- Program Planning & Development
- Health, Safety & Nutrition
Grants: In addition to well-trained professionals, children need well-designed and well-maintained spaces to promote active learning. That is why Qualistar promotes development of high-quality environments, both indoors and outdoors, through our Capital Improvement Grants. Environmental psychology and architectural research has shown a correlation between school design and both student achievement and teacher retention. High-quality learning environments also convey a sense of value while creating a setting in which children can thrive.
A well-designed facility can:
- Enhance child development and quality.
- Encourage family involvement.
- Provide a positive workplace in a field challenged by high turnover.
Scholarships: Early childhood teachers who have postsecondary experience have been shown to have a better understanding of child development and to be more responsive to the educational and academic needs of young children. T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, offered by Qualistar, provides college scholarships to early childhood professionals in our state. T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, which is affiliated with the national Teacher Education and Compensation Helps initiative, pays for 90 percent of the college tuition and fees for courses to meet licensing requirements and to earn a credential, associate or bachelor’s degree.
Healthy Child Care Colorado: Healthy Child Care Colorado, part of a nationwide initiative to ensure early childhood programs and health professionals adhere to the highest health, safety and wellness standards, is a key component of Qualistar’s efforts to build safe, supportive environments. Healthy Child Care Colorado promotes best practices in injury prevention, obesity prevention, oral health, and social and emotional well-being.
Since inception, Qualistar has conducted more than 11,000 classroom assessments, supported more than 2,000 early childhood professionals with college scholarships, and awarded $2.5 million in capital improvement grants for facilities improvements. In 2016 alone, Qualistar held 146 trainings, which impacted over 2,400 early childhood professionals.