Early Childhood Program Shines!

The Early Childhood Program at Neighborhood House is reaching for the stars and getting them – ace-ing two key state evaluations, and partnering up with Next Door in a major national initiative!

A four-star rating from YoungStar, a program of the WI Department of Children and Families, was awarded this February. In fact, overall scores were good enough for the top YoungStar 5 rating, and a YoungStar 5 review may happen this calendar year.

YoungStar evaluates the quality of care given by regulated child care providers and provides ratings from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars being the highest. Ratings are reviewed annually in the categories of Staff Education Qualifications and Training, Learning Environment and Curriculum, Professional and Business Practices, Child Health and Well-Being Practices. A higher rating improves an agency’s reputation, and increases its reimbursement rates for Wisconsin Shares.

Neighborhood House is one of only two agencies in the 53208 zip code that have YoungStar 4 or higher rating. The four-star rating is the result of a lot of hard work by Early Childhood,  facilities and business office staff. “Teachers are proud of their classrooms, proud of the important work we do, and it shows,” said Phan Sanford, Early Childhood Services Manager.  “Everyone who works here contributes to making this a first-rate environment for early childhood education,” added Neighborhood House Executive Director Jeff Martinka, “from the classroom teachers to the people who keep the sidewalks shoveled, the floors spotless, the kitchen clean, and the books in good order– it’s all connected.”

ehs_logoThe YoungStar 4 status comes as Neighborhood House begins a new Early Head Start partnership with Next Door, part of a $4.8 million federal effort to improve access to high-quality infant and toddler care and provide extra support for families in high-need communities. Early Childhood is “one of the best investments we can make,” said President Barack Obama in his announcement of this new initiative, adding that studies repeatedly show that children who are educated early in life are more likely to finish their educations, avoid the criminal justice system, hold good jobs and have stable families.

More good news came in February when Neighborhood House passed its food program audit by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction – with flying colors! The auditor remarked on well-organized records, well-prepared business staff, and spoke highly of Early Childhood staff’s attention to detail, positive interaction between staff and kids during lunch, as well as the clean and sanitized kitchen (thank you Ms. LuGredia).



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