- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Parents now have at their fingertips a way to see the results of inspections of child-care providers.
The Maryland State Department of Education recently launched a website, www.CheckCCMD.org, that lists child-care centers and family child-care homes and allows users to sort by county or town.
It highlights the dates of any inspection compliance issues and whether the issues were resolved, including items such as yards not fenced, children’s information not up to date or complete, staffing issues, electrical outlets or cords from windows exposed to children and a host of other inspection points.
The website lists more than 10,500 child-care providers in the state, including 279 in St. Mary’s County, 220 in Calvert and 354 in Charles.
The providers do have the opportunity to correct or appeal any noncompliance identified by the inspections, and MSDE said it encourages families to talk to the providers about any findings.
The new website is one of a number of initiatives the state is rolling out to improve aspects of early child care.
Some are tied to Maryland’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant of $50 million won from the federal government during a competition late last year.
The state plans to use the money to help strengthen early learning and development programs, especially for children with extra needs. The state hopes to entice private child-care providers to offer price breaks for children from low-income families.
Kathleen Reif, director of St. Mary’s libraries, and Siobhan Ponder, executive director of the Promise Resource Center, said the idea is to pull together existing programs, including those offered through the public school system, mental health, programs for infants and toddlers, libraries and the resource centers.
Reif said winning the grant has helped focus the spotlight on preschool-aged children.
The St. Mary’s libraries will continue to be a key part in the program by being a distribution point of information and through other ways, Reif said.
The resource center will continue to provide required and voluntary training to child-care providers. While there is a fee for much of that training, the group will start hosting new workshops for free at the libraries beginning this month.
Ponder said the goal is to increase the quality of all early child care, from teachers and aides to parents and grandparents.
The county commissioners are expected to appoint an early childhood council for St. Mary’s County that will essentially replace the current early childhood team in place now. Reif and Ponder said it will likely have many of the same people, since they are heavily involved with early childhood education now.
There is also a series of documents called Healthy Beginnings available on the MSDE website for parents and others to discover ways to help children develop from birth through age 3. That will be expanded to include tips for 4-year-olds, too, Ponder said.
Another website is being developed that will include voluntary quality rating system for child-care providers. Known as Maryland EXCELS, the site is in a pilot phase for at least one year before it is available for statewide participation. Once up and running, it will have ratings for child-care providers throughout the state.
To learn more
The website www.CheckCCMD.org offers detailed compliance findings from child care licensing inspections as well as links to a wide range of information about early care and education in Maryland.