Provider Spotlight: Garrett County Provider Commits to Continuous Quality Improvement to Transform Program

Family Child Care Provider Rebecca Ashby has cared for children in her Garrett County home for 15 years. She nurtured many children from the time they were 6 weeks old until their first day of kindergarten.

Ashby has always felt like she gives her best to the children and families in her program. When Ashby learned about the opportunity to increase the quality of care she was providing by completing training offered by Maryland EXCELS, she dedicated herself to the education that would benefit her and the children she cares so much about.

Ashby worked with Quality Assurance Specialist Darlene Schmidt and the Garrett County Judy Center to quickly achieve a quality rating of 4. She also became accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) in 2017.

Before starting her journey with Maryland EXCELS in the last year, Ashby had faithfully taught the children in her Little Ones Day Care about their colors, numbers, and letters. However, she didn’t necessarily understand the nuances of lesson planning or creating schedules.

“I can [now] prove that I’m a quality [child] care to families,” Ashby said. “I can tell parents when they call that, yes, we follow structured lesson plans and a curriculum. You’re not just having your kids here to be babysat all day, and they’re actually learning.”

Ashby has shared her achievements with her families, who she says have encouraged her as she took the time for training and professional development.  They also noticed that she incorporated what she learned into her daily schedule with the children.

“I didn’t go to college. It was…harder for me. I had to work really hard to achieve what I have,” she said. “It’s nice to know that I put a lot of work into this and that I’m being recognized for it. And it’s good to be respected for this–it feels good. My parents know what I’ve done and the hard work I’ve put in.”

Ashby is especially proud of becoming accredited by NAFCC with the help of the Judy Center and Maryland EXCELS. She said she completed more than 100 hours of training over the course of a year, as well as acquired the necessary materials, such as age-appropriate books and blocks, to improve the quality of her child care.

After she completed the necessary classes and finished a daylong interview and observation, she waited about two months before receiving the good news that she was accredited.

“I was very excited. It was a relief. Total relief,” Ashby said.

Ashby is continuing her journey of continuous quality improvement as she works toward achieving a quality rating of 5.

“These kids inspire me every day, and I hope that I inspire them to learn every day. It’s just a joy to see them from birth to school. I think, ‘Wow.’ I just want to continue doing that.”

Ashby’s Maryland EXCELS goals reflect what she strives to accomplish as a provider to continue to give the children in her care a high-quality educational experience and foundation in their early years.