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 Meg Kennedy, Owner and Director of Tender Loving Care Child Care in Pocatello. Kennedy has earned a Steps to Quality, Step 4 rating. In this question-and-answer series with Kennedy from September 10, 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? Kennedy: I am most proud of my staff. They are dedicated to TLC and our profession; they are compassionate and love what they are doing; and they have stayed with TLC for many years! IdahoSTARS: What are your future goals for your facility? Kennedy: Over the last 18 months our goals have changed or been put on hold. We are working to maintain the quality care that we have always given. We would like to increase enrollment, raise wages for staff and maintain our STQ rating. Long term goals are to make improvements around the facility. IdahoSTARS: Can you describe your journey through the Steps to Quality program? Kennedy: We have been with Idaho STARS since the beginning. When we began our journey with Steps to Quality, we were not sure how it would turn out! We knew that, overall, it would be a positive experience. We had to work together in small groups and in staff meetings to talk about each step, work on the ERS to be prepared for the assessments, and work with our Idaho STARS consultant throughout the process. When it came time for our assessment and validation visits, we realized that we were prepared and that it was totally worth it! IdahoSTARS: What attributes does someone need to be successful in reaching the higher steps of Steps to Quality? Kennedy: To reach higher steps of STQ, we found that consistency and commitment to the goal were foremost. We knew that we needed to work together to realize our goals. Knowledge of the ERS, Strengthening Families, and DAP were especially needed to achieve our goal. As new staff came on board, the other teachers helped them become familiar with the steps. 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? Kennedy: Parents and prospective parents appreciate that we are part of STQ. People are becoming aware of IdahoSTARS and often will ask if we participate. We are proud to be able to tell them about our successes. The staff also has become more involved in areas such as working for their CDA. We have four people who have earned their CDA in the last year. IdahoSTARS: What challenges did you face to reaching the higher steps of Steps to Quality? Kennedy: The challenges we faced in reaching for the next step were minimal. We are always resistant to more paperwork! Our IdahoSTARS consultant was very helpful in guiding us through the various checklists and supporting documents. We also faced issues with our facility which seems to be ongoing, but we made the necessary changes to comply with the ERS. A lot of it involves remembering that there are many staff here who have ideas and innovation. Changes in the staff were not too much of a challenge because the regular staff pitched in to help them get acquainted with the process. We oriented them to IdahoSTARS’ right away. IdahoSTARS: How did you overcome those challenges? Kennedy: Our IdahoSTARS consultant, Judy Boren, has been instrumental in our STQ journey. Her passion for early care and education is infectious! She has been there all the way, along with the other IdahoSTARS consultants in our region. We meet regularly to discuss our goals for TLC and work towards those goals throughout the year. 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.