Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers a variety of training programs and opportunities to the many child care providers partnering with us to serve families in the Austin/Travis County region. These include quality rated programs, quality initiative activities and other community resources to child care providers who strive for quality.
One of these programs is Texas Rising Star (TRS), for child care providers who meet quality requirements that exceed the state’s minimum licensing standards and who strive to enhance the development of the children in their care. A local provider that has excelled in the program, and accomplished much in a short time, is YMOK.
YMOK is licensed for 49 children and has full enrollment, with 33 of the children placed here by Workforce Solutions Capital Area Child Care Services (CCS), said Director Cristina Romero.
“Our main relationship with Workforce Solutions Capital Area is providing care for the CCS children. I have had many interactions with the CCS staff and have found them to be friendly and helpful with resources,” said Cristina.
A focus on continuous learning
Cristina boosts her teachers’ continuing education efforts by supporting them in the Teacher Training, Retention, and Compensation (TRAC) Project through Austin Community College (ACC), and encourages her teachers to pursue their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.
“I offer many opportunities for my staff to receive training. We have face-to-face trainings as well as offering online options,” Cristina said.
“I also have a great relationship with the Teacher TRAC coordinator with ACC. This is a program that offers scholarships for child care teachers to take child development classes at ACC. I have had a couple of teachers take advantage of this opportunity and have received their CDA,” Cristina said.
The importance Cristina and her staff put on learning is reflected by the center’s status as a 4-star TRS provider. The program includes three levels of quality designation—2-star, 3-star, and 4-star.
The center entered the quality program in December 2017 as a 2-star provider. By July 2018, the center earned the highest rating. How did YMOK do it?
“First, I made sure we were following all of the licensing regulations for the state of Texas. I also had a mentor who gave us advice and recommendations throughout our preparation,” Cristina said. “I also made sure we were providing developmentally appropriate activities for our children to provide a higher quality of care.”
“We also have a relationship with the Quality Initiatives program at Workforce Solutions Capital Area, which provided us with a mentor while preparing for our TRS assessment,” Cristina said.
“In a matter of months, YMOK achieved a level 4 status,” said Kristi Vidaure, Customer and Provider Relations Coordinator at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “The amount of work and commitment it takes to make such a drastic transition is not often seen.”
A reputation for providing a higher quality of care
YMOK also works closely with local organizations that provide support services to at-risk families, such as Austin Recovery. Families affected by addiction can receive assistance from YMOK, and the center provides continuity of care for parents staying at Austin Recovery and after their departure.
“I want the children to have the same opportunities and experiences as everyone else. I know these children come from tough situations and need a warm, nurturing environment, and we can provide that for them,” said Cristina.
The center provides learning opportunities for children, with a Spanish immersion program included in the infant and preschool curriculum: “I think this is a great opportunity for all children to learn a second language,” Cristina said. “This is also the perfect time to introduce a new language because their brains can learn so quickly at a younger age.”
For Cristina, the benefits of participating in quality programs like TRS are apparent: “A TRS center is one that is known for providing a higher quality of care for the children in our community, and I believe that is what our children deserve,” she said.
About the Texas Rising Star program
The Texas Rising Star program is for child care providers who meet quality requirements that exceed the state’s minimum licensing standards and that are designed to enhance the intellectual, physical, and social development of children in care. In return for their commitment to quality, providers receive numerous benefits including enhanced reimbursement rates, learning materials and equipment, child development college course scholarships, and more.
Learn more about the Texas Rising Star program here.