UD’s Marge Kremer Little Spartans Childcare Center Achieves Highest Level on Iowa’s Quality Rating System

Dec 15, 2015 | Kristi Lynch

The University of Dubuque Marge Kremer Little Spartans Childcare Center recently received notification that they have achieved a 5-star rating on Iowa’s Quality Rating System (QRS).

“We are only the fifth center in the county to be awarded 5 stars,” stated Angela Schrodt, director of the Childcare Center. “It is a very challenging and lengthy process, so many centers choose not to attempt it.”

Iowa’s QRS is a voluntary child care rating system for child development homes, licensed child care centers and preschools, and child care programs that are operated by school districts.  The program offers providers a guided way to improve the quality of child care they provide.  A provider who achieves Level 1 has met Iowa’s registration or licensing standards.  A provider who achieves Level 2 has received additional training and made the first steps toward improving quality.  Providers in Levels 3-5 have made significant steps in meeting key indicators of quality in the areas of: professional development, health and safety, environment, family and community partnership, and leadership and administration.

In 2014, Little Spartans Childcare Center was awarded a 4-star rating, and Center staff has been working for the last year-and-a-half on the 5-star rating. 

“The biggest difference between a 4-star and 5-star center is the fact that 5-star centers must meet not only the QRS requirements but must also comply with the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scales (ERS),” said Schrodt. 

In order to meet the requirements for 5 stars, centers must have enough points on the QRS scale (points awarded for staff training, policies and procedures, etc.) as well as score an average of 5 (on a scale of 7) on the ERS.  For ERS assessment, assessors observe a percentage of a center’s classrooms.  Classrooms in the Little Spartans Childcare Center that were observed each earned an average score of 6 – higher than what is required.

Examples of changes that were implemented at the Center include:

  • Rearranging schedules so children have enough time to play and explore throughout the day (requirement is to provide 4 hours of “free play” throughout the day);
  • Implementing individualized infant lesson planning;
  • Adding more materials to each classroom, particularly musical materials and multicultural materials;
  • Adding variety to the library of books, making sure to have a plenty of nonfiction/science based books;
  • Adding more science elements to each classroom – each room now has a live animal and a terrarium;
  • Staff attend additional training and meetings, as well as do self-evaluations of their classrooms.

“I am so proud of our staff for achieving this goal!,” commented Schrodt.  “We have practiced and trained for the last year to make sure we are meeting all of the requirements for the scale.  We worked closely with Childcare Resource and Referral (a local agency that works with centers to improve quality) to do practice scales and improvement plans.  It has been a long process, but was well worth it to achieve the rating!”