The Children′s Program, housed on the first-floor of the Child Development Research Center (CDRC), serves over 100 children from 2 months through 5 years. The facility has 10 classrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen that serves a hot lunch and two nutritious snacks daily. In addition, there is a large room for in-door activities, a special projects room, outdoor play space, and individual rooms for working one-on-one with children.
The Children’s Program focuses on promoting optimum physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development by providing children hands-on experiences based on their developmental levels. The program includes both teacher-directed and self-selected activities, placing emphasis on helping the children develop intellectual curiosity, problem-solving and socialization skills.
Earning a five star rating by meeting all requirements at each STAR level, UA’s Children’s Program boasts small class sizes, excellent staff to child ratios, a developmentally appropriate curriculum, extensive parent engagement, and highly qualified teachers.
Children’s Program Director Michelle Darabaris believes, “The Alabama Quality STARS Rating System is important for young children, families and our state. When an early childhood development program enrolls in the STARS program they are making a public statement of their commitment to quality child care. Each tier in the system builds on the level of quality a program provides. Receiving even one star is quite an accomplishment as it requires extra effort and intentionality in what we do each day in childcare programs. Quality rises with each subsequent star and the children ultimately benefit.”
“We are thrilled that we received the highest rating of 5 STARS and the fact that we were the first in the state to do so is a tremendous honor,” says Darabaris. “Our teachers, support staff, families, administration, and college are deeply committed to maintaining the highest quality early childhood program in the state of Alabama. The 5 STARS quality rating represents our promotion of developmentally appropriate practice and our steadfast pledge to young children.”
Alabama Quality STARS’ building block system rates child care center quality above the state minimum licensing requirements. A collaboration between the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) and The University of Alabama, Alabama Quality STARS is part of a national systematic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early care and education programs. It strives to improve the quality of early care and education programs, increase the number of high quality programs, increase the number of children enrolled in quality programs, and provide a way for parents to choose a child care center.
Centers that participate in Alabama Quality STARS will receive between one and five stars based on STARS standards in the areas of staff qualifications and professional development, management and administrative practices, learning environment and curriculum, and family involvement and community partnerships.