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IdahoSTARS has kicked off a new project to showcase the accomplishments of the highest quality child care facilities in the State of Idaho. Meet real-life examples of quality child care and celebrate their successes and see the possibilities for other child care providers reaching the same goals. 

Please join us in celebrating Stephanie Olson, Owner and Director of Little Wonders Preschool in Idaho Falls. Olson has earned a Steps to Quality, Step 4 rating. As a home provider, she shows us that center size does not measure a facility’s ability to be recognized for its quality.

In this question-and-answer series with Olson from September 8, 2021, learn more about her experiences becoming recognized as a high-quality child care facility:

IdahoSTARS: What are you most proud of about your facility?

Olson: For my facility I am most proud of the growth and amazing families I have had the opportunity to work with.

IdahoSTARS: What are your future goals for your facility?

Olson: For my facility I would like to see more growth by moving to a center-based program.

IdahoSTARS: Can you describe your journey through the Steps to Quality program?

Olson: Steps to Quality has helped me in a lot of ways. I often look back to when I started, and my classroom seemed somewhat of a shell. Working with Steps to Quality has helped me to see areas that need improvement and offered the help and support to do so. Since I started working with STQ I have implemented a more quality parent/staff handbook, worked to serve family style meals, and have been able to work on building classroom centers that offer more enriching activities for children who attend. Overall, they have really helped me move in the direction I wanted to see my center take.

IdahoSTARS: What attributes does someone need to be successful in reaching the higher steps of Steps to Quality?

Olson: This is a tough one…compassion, desire, and a love for the work they do and that is needed in the classroom setting.

IdahoSTARS: Knowing “success” is not only being measured by step advancement, in what ways other than a step rating have you measured your success in Steps to Quality?

Olson: Some of the ways I have measured my success are through conversation with parents, referrals from parents, families that have stayed with the program, and the growth and success of the children.

IdahoSTARS: What challenges did you face to reaching the higher steps of Steps to Quality?

Olson: Some challenges I face(d) are time constraints. Being a home provider does not allot much time outside of business hours to complete any extra work. It can also be difficult to work on some of the little things that need to be done around the classroom I wouldn’t normally think to do. These will vary from center to center depending on where they are in the process.

IdahoSTARS: How did you overcome those challenges?

Olson: For the paperwork I find time to squeeze it in during quiet time, or I try to set aside an hour or two throughout the week when my family has more down time. For the little things, I find these on my rating assessments, I try to choose one to build into my routine and when I feel it is fairly well implemented, I move to another one. However, having said that, some continue to get lost in the mix.  Not a full proof plan, but I try.

IdahoSTARS: What motivated you to participate in Steps to Quality?

Olson: I have worked in ECE for a lot of years. Being in the business for myself is a lifelong dream. Once I started, I loved it. I also realized I like a job that can offer good feedback on how I’m doing and how I can improve. On my own I was missing that piece. I enjoy the challenge, I guess.

IdahoSTARS: In what ways did you utilize regional office or coaching supports to help you increase quality in your facility?

Olson: I work each month with my lead childcare quality consultant (Susan), and she helps me to see what should be completed and helps me to set goals to get it done. I have also called a few times to just ask a question or two. Everyone is so nice and happy to help.

Thanks for reading! If you haven’t already, please join our Steps to Quality (STQ) program for free coaching support, a transparent process, eligibility for grants and monetary recognition, and your center name promoted on our website.  Where to start? 1. Login to your RISE account. 2. Select the Help tab. 3. Click on Steps to Quality.