SYRACUSE - High-quality early childhood programs can play a critical role in student success.

Wawasee Community School Corporation offers high-quality educational opportunities for students through their Wawasee Early Learning Centers, according to a news release from Wawasee. The programs include Milford Early Learning Center, Syracuse Early Learning Center and North Webster Early Learning Center.

Research shows that high-quality early childhood programs prepare children for future success in school, work and life. From birth through age 5 is the most important time for growth of the human brain, the release states. A child’s brain develops in response to the child’s experiences by building neurological networks in reaction to the environment.

A child’s experiences in a child care program can significantly contribute to that brain development and the future success of the child. High-quality child care programs are essential, not only to Hoosier children, but also to their families and to the communities in which they live, the release states. Parents need stable, high-quality care in order to be productive at work. They count on their child care provider to ensure that their child is safe, healthy and learning during those hours they must be at work. The school systems need children who are entering school prepared and ready to succeed. Businesses need a high-quality work force both now and in the future, stated the release. In fact, studies have shown that high-quality early childhood programs increase the graduation rate, reduce the future crime rate and can save up to $16 for every $1 invested.

In order to improve the quality of child care programs, states across the nation are using Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, such as the one here in Indiana, Paths to Quality™. Quality Rating and Improvement Systems assess the quality of care within a program, work to improve that quality level and give families an easy to recognize symbol that makes the difficult decision of choosing preschool and child care easier.

Paths to Quality™ gives families an easy to recognize tool for selecting a child care program. Families can look for the Paths to Quality™ logo to determine what level their provider has achieved. Each level builds on the foundation of the previous one, resulting in  improvements at each stage and in national accreditation at the highest level. The system validates preschool and child care programs for ongoing efforts to achieve higher standards of quality and provides incentives and awards for success, the release states. The four levels address:

• Level One: Health and safety needs of children met.

• Level Two: Environment supports children’s learning.

• Level Three: Planned curriculum guides child development and school readiness.

• Level Four: National accreditation (the highest indicator of quality) is achieved.

Wawasee Early Learning Centers, including Milford Early Learning Center, Syracuse Early Learning Center and North Webster Early Learning Center, have reached Path to Quality Level 3.  

The school corporation’s program (WELC) has demonstrated (to reach Paths to Quality 3):

1. Operating in good standing and have been recognized by the state of Indiana as having met all required health and safety standards.

2. A commitment to improve program quality. The school corporation offers opportunities for children to advance their growth and development. The school corporation has evidence of a consistent daily schedule, planned activities for children and provide relevant program information for families.

3.  The knowledge and skill necessary for planning appropriate activities and opportunities that lead children toward school readiness. The school corporation has made a significant investment in the professional development of the staff, and incorporates family and staff input into the program.

The next goal is receiving a level 4 rating, which Wawasee is currently working on, according to the release.

These programs are housed in their respective elementary and follow the school calendar. There are open seats so if you're interested in enrolling your child in one of these programs.

Contact Brittany Rosenberry at 574-457-3188 or brosenberry@wawaseeschools.org.