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Delano Union School District’s Board of Trustees congratulated Fremont Child Care and Del Vista Preschool for their five-star Kern Early Stars ratings during the board’s meeting on Aug. 5. Front row, from left: Board member Irene Martinez, Fremont site supervisor Lorena Valenzuela, DUSD Superintendent Rosalina Rivera, Del Vista site supervisor Karen Prather and Board member Suzanne Villaruz. Back row: Board president Efrain Rodriguez, district director of child development Mike Bledsoe and Board clerk Frank Herrera.

Delano Union School District’s Del Vista Preschool and Fremont Child Care were honored Aug. 5 during the district’s monthly board meeting for their designation as five-star centers by the county’s Kern Early Stars quality rating program.

In a continuing process to refine and improve education for district pre-kindergarten children, the two centers were reviewed in 2018-19 during year five of the Kern Early Stars program. This is the first time that Fremont has been rated by Kern Early Stars. Del Vista received its two-year re-rating.

Kern Early Stars is a quality rating and improvement system being implemented statewide. The group has provided training, technical assistance and coaching for classrooms to work toward achieving the next level of quality they want to obtain.

In 2015, the Early Childhood Council of Kern, under the umbrella of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, applied for and received funding from the California Department of Education (CDE) to implement a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) in Kern County, called Kern Early Stars.

Utilizing a program model developed by a statewide consortium of early childhood education representatives, Kern Early Stars has been able to begin providing training, technical assistance and coaching to teachers working in California State Preschool Programs (CSPP) across the county.

Realizing that CSPP sites are already providing excellent early learning experiences for preschool children, the goal of Kern Early Stars is to assist centers in achieving the next level of quality they wish to obtain. In addition to the coaching being provided to CSPP centers, Kern Early Stars includes a rating process based on seven elements of quality: child observation, developmental and health screenings, lead teacher qualifications, effective teacher/child interactions, ratios and group size, program environment rating scale and director qualifications.

Through the rating process, sites obtain points within each of the above mentioned categories, which in turn indicates the Star rating based on a five-tiered matrix. CDE allows the provision of block grants to those CSPP sites who have achieved a formal rating of a four or five. CDE recognizes sites scoring at least a three as High Quality programs.

Fremont Child Care site supervisor Lorena Valenzuela led the center’s initial rating, receiving a five-star rating. Of the 30 centers rated higher than a three-star during 2018-19 in Kern County, seven achieved a four-star rating, and eight achieved a five-star rating.

The honor includes a grant of $7,500. Valenzuela and her staff spent many hours modifying their classroom and instruction to achieve this rating. Valenzuela has been the site supervisor at Fremont since 2016.

Del Vista Preschool received its initial rating in 2017. It is currently led by Del Vista’s site supervisor Karen Prather, a 26-year veteran at the center.

Del Vista saw more stringent guidelines during its re-rating process in 2018-19. However, Prather’s score on the Program Environment Rating Scale exceeded six on a seven-point scale. This is a full point higher than her last rating in 2017.

In its re-rate, Del Vista Preschool scored five–stars (which also includes a $7,500 grant). This is an increase from the four-stars the center scored in 2017.

The grants will help the entire Delano Union School District Child Development program improve quality. The ratings of all Kern County centers are available on the internet through the Kern Early Stars web site for parents who seek quality child care.

For more information regarding Kern Early Stars, please contact Pamela Pritchard at 861-5294.

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