The NW Regional Key, responsible for the Keystone STARS quality improvement system for 20 counties in NW Pennsylvania, partners with Early Connections to fulfill the Regional Planning, Leadership Coordination, and Technical Assistance responsibilities of the Regional Key.
The goal of regional planning is to assist each community in determining the most effective and efficient method for engaging the members of that community to design a plan for a coordinated effort to help all children succeed, and then execute that plan. Early Connections provides coordination for, and participates in, the NWRK Leadership Council to support regional planning and activities. In addition, Early Connections assists the work of the Key by providing Technical Assistance and Quality Assurance for specific NWRK outputs.
In our community, Early Connections is an integral part of not only offering quality early care and education programs, it is working to provide instruction to sites so that they provide the best for the children in their programs.
In order to ensure that early education facilities are providing the kinds of quality programming that benefit children, Pennsylvania has developed the Keystone STARS program, a quality improvement initiative designed to recognize and reward child care facilities that exceed state health and safety licensing requirements. Facilities are awarded a STAR One, Two, Three, or Four quality rating based on their achievement of quality performance standards in the areas of staff education, learning environment, administration, and health and safety. The STAR rating reflects standards of quality that are research based and linked to improved outcomes for children as related to social and emotional development, learning skills, and school readiness. Currently the Northwest region has over 400 early care and education sites enrolled in their program with the goal to continuously increase that number. Early Connections is contracted through the Northwest Key to deliver Leadership Coordination and Keystone STARS Technical Assistance.