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MANT Recognized for Texas Rising Star Status

The Texas Workforce Commission recognized seven Texoma area child care providers for their quality educational services Tuesday afternoon as a part of its Texas Rising Star Program. Each of the seven child care centers, including five from Grayson County, were presented with incentive checks ranging from $2,000 to $2,750 as part of the recognitions.

“I want to recognize everyone because you are a Texas Rising Star,” Julie Craig, a childcare projects manager for Workforce Solutions Texoma, said. “I am proud to announce that we have seven Texas Rising Stars in our three county area and we have three providers that are currently working on achieving their accreditation. This is definitely a select group.”

Craig said the program is part of the Texas Workforce Commission andadministered locally by Workforce Solutions. The program is voluntary on the part of childcare providers, and allows representatives to come in and assess the services on a set of standards that include curriculum, staff qualifications and caregiver-child interactions, among others. Qualified providers are then rated on their level of service, with the most qualified receiving a four-star rating.

These standards are above what are set for standard Texas certification, Craig said. For this year’s recognitions, Craig said six of the seven accredited centers in the three county area were given a four-star rating.

Craig said the program is vital to Workforce Commission’s goal of strengthening the state’s job market as it is preparing the next generation of students for future careers.

“These Texas Rising Star child care providers give our community a valuable service; taking care of our community’s children,” Craig said. “These caring people ensure our children are in a safe and nurturing environment, all while offering early education, even to the littlest of infants.”

Beyond training, Craig said the centers also serve the local labor market by providing parents with adequate childcare so they can in turn maintain jobs and be a contributing part of the workforce.

“Childcare is the most important thing I think anyone can do,” Workforce Solutions Executive Director Janie Bates said. “People ask me what we do at Workforce, and childcare is always my favorite program. Why it is my favorite program is because parents couldn’t go to work if they didn’t have quality childcare. We want not just babysitting, but quality and you all have set a standard for that.”

For the past 15 years, Footsteps and Fingerprints in Bonham has maintained a four-star rating with the program. Director Beverly Bethel said maintaining a quality program for that long requires adjusting to new times and standards.
“You always have to adapt and strive to be a better provider,” Bethel said.

Over the years, the student/teacher ratios have changed, and requirements for teacher accreditation have shifted as well, she said. Bethel said she was uncertain what the money from the incentive check she received would go toward, but said there are always projects on the back burner.

Chiniqua Hill said her official title is director, but she often has to serve as a teacher, nurse and janitor for the 15 students at the Pre-School for Little Zebras in Sherman. This is the second year the school has been recognized under the program.

“My school is small but we are just tenacious about preparing little ones for kindergarten,” Hill said.

With her $2,750 grant, Hill said she had several projects she would like to pursue, including funding for her library and new mats for rest time at her facility.

By Michael Hutchins, Herald Democrat
October 30, 2018

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