Gov. Brian P. Kemp and Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs have awarded the inaugural Quality Rated Language and Literacy Endorsement to eight child care centers, including Discovery Point in Conyers, that demonstrated a commitment to providing high-quality, language-rich environments to Georgia’s youngest learners.

“It is exciting to recognize this first group of Quality Rated Language and Literacy Endorsement recipients,” said Kemp. “Providers serving infant-toddlers, preschoolers, and Georgia’s pre-k students have a great opportunity and responsibility to help children build strong pre-reading skills during a critical stage of their development. I am confident as more early educators meet the criteria and benchmarks to receive this Endorsement, we will be able to give all of our young learners the strongest possible foundation for academic achievement and overall success in life.”

Kemp tasked DECAL with creating the Quality Rated Language and Literacy Endorsement to help improve student literacy, and encourage and support child care providers in emphasizing language skills among the state’s birth-to-age 5 population. The eight providers received the Endorsement after successfully completing a rigorous nine-month program of training and professional development; demonstrating a commitment to developing meaningful, intentional, and individualized literacy instruction that follows accepted standards; and creating an approved language and literacy instruction sustainability plan.

The Endorsement was provided to the following providers: ABC, Another Bright Creation Early Learning and Daycare Center (Palmetto); Discovery Point #61 (Conyers); Giselle Learning Academy (Clarkston); Kid’s World Learning Center (Statesboro); Minnie Howell Child Development Center (Atlanta); Rising Star Learning Center (Mableton); The Learning Station (Ellenwood); and Whitfield-Dalton Day Care Center (Dalton).

The eight centers receiving these first-ever Endorsements are among the state’s highest-performing child care providers, having previously earned multiple-star ratings from Quality Rated. They were invited to participate in this inaugural Endorsement program because of their Quality Rated status, as well as their impressive records of care and service to a significant number of children, including those receiving Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) scholarships.

“Congratulations to these providers for meeting the high bar we set for earning a Quality Rated Language and Literacy Endorsement,” said Jacobs. “It is especially commendable that they completed the program while confronting numerous challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. Their perseverance demonstrates an admirable commitment to providing high-quality literacy instruction to Georgia’s children and to helping design best practices which will be the standard throughout Georgia.”

DECAL developed the innovative and critically important Endorsement program criteria, components, structure, and resources in consultation with a panel of early care and education experts. Teachers from the participating providers received training in understanding language development in very young children and adopting and implementing best practices in language and literacy instruction. Meanwhile, the center directors completed approximately 60 hours of training, including professional learning coursework, to develop the knowledge, skills, and tools to strengthen learning environments and foster quality improvement in early education settings. The training culminated with them earning a certificate in Early Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In addition to the Endorsement, each participating provider received a Continuous Quality Improvement Sustainability Bonus Payment, a technology grant to support the completion of the virtual, online training courses, and a variety of classroom materials to be used in future language and literacy instruction. The teachers and directors at each center also received stipend payments of varying amounts. Funding for the Endorsement program was provided by the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy and the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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