June 29, 2023 By CDHD IdahoSTARS celebrates 20 years On July 1, IdahoSTARS will celebrate 20 years of serving children, families and early care and education professionals across Idaho! The Project has grown and evolved over the course of the last 20 years; however, thanks to the incredible efforts of a dedicated staff, it has never missed a beat in providing top quality childcare and early childhood education services. This momentous occasion will be recognized by sharing memories and pictures through IdahoSTARS social media and the Project newsletter. There are also plans to celebrate partners, community members and staff who have been a part of the Project’s history. To follow along and get all the latest updates of upcoming events, like, follow and subscribe (if you haven’t already) through the IdahoSTARS website. Getting started IdahoSTARS started in 2003 when the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare put out a request for response. Idaho CDHD Director Julie Fodor and Idaho AEYC Executive Director Kim Mason worked together and collaborated with other state partners to write a grant for the new project. The CDHD was awarded the contract and immediately prepared a sub-award for Idaho AEYC to co-administer the Project. Further sub-awards with entities were prepared to establish the Project’s Child Care Resource and Referral offices located in regions across the state. With the basic framework of the Project set up, staff hit the ground running. The Idaho Child Care Program (ICCP) was in-progress, which meant a lot of on-the-job learning. Fortunately, the dedicated IdahoSTARS staff rose to the occasion. The program continued running without missing a beat! A year of accomplishments Within the first year, IdahoSTARS created a professional development system that included: career pathways training opportunities academic and training scholarships recognition incentives. The Child Care Resource and Referral offices hired committed staff members who focused on building relationships with local childcare programs and staff. These efforts increased the visibility of IdahoSTARS and quality childcare within local communities around Idaho. They also established connections with other organizations and agencies that interacted with childcare. The Project carried out many ICCP orientations and presentations about the IdahoSTARS Professional Development System (PDS). The hard work paid off with hundreds of early childcare and education professionals applying to participate in ICCP and/or the PDS Registry. Child Care Development Block Grant In 2014, under the Obama Administration, the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) was reauthorized – something that had not been done since 1996. This law authorizes the Child Care and Development Fund program, which is administered by states, territories and tribes. It outlines how federal funds will be used to help low-income families pay for childcare while one or more parent works or is in school. The program also made significant advancements in childcare by defining health and safety requirements for childcare providers, outlining family-friendly eligibility policies and ensuring that the general public has access to transparent information about available childcare in their state. This significant step increased awareness and visibility of childcare. It increased federal requirements for states utilizing the funding, which in turn allowed Idaho to increase state standards for childcare programs. COVID-19 challenges COVID-19 had a huge impact on childcare across the US. Idaho was no exception. With availability down, it shined a glaring light on the importance of access to childcare. A strong workforce depends on the availability of childcare. IdahoSTARS worked closely with childcare programs during this time. The Project provided guidance and resources, offered increased online training opportunities, and collaborated with local organizations to support programs in safely remaining open. Looking forward Things have not slowed down since 2003. Staff continue to support quality initiatives for childcare facilities. They have developed additional programs and opportunities and created a system that supports the field of childcare. Since that whirlwind first year, IdahoSTARS has: Successfully managed childcare provider eligibility for the ICCP child care assistance for low-income families. Coordinated a statewide Child Care Resource Center network, with seven regional offices, which provides technical assistance, coaching and resources. Implemented their PDS for child care providers with a trainer/training approval component, academic and training scholarships, a statewide registry, and educational pathway and professional incentives. Developed a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System for quality improvement of Idaho child care programs. Prioritized considerations for children and families with diverse needs and abilities in all quality initiatives. Partnered with other agencies and organizations to coordinate early care and education across Idaho. IdahoSTARS has had staff come and go over the last 20 years. Each one has made and continues to make an impact. They are committed, passionate and knowledgeable about child development and quality practices. Their work makes a difference for children, families, and childcare professionals every day. Thanks to their knowledge, skills and time, IdahoSTARS is looking forward to another 20 years of dedicated service.