by Donna Lowry, 11Alive.com
ATLANTA -- It's hard enough to leave your child when you have to work, so you want to make sure you're leaving them in not only a safe environment, but a nurturing one, too.
Beginning today, July 1, it gets much easier.
Georgia is rolling out a new Quality Ratings System that will give high marks to the best child care places for children.
"Babysitting is not good enough. We know that brain develop is very rapid at the beginning of life," said Commissioner Bobby Cagle of Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.
Georgia is joining the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), a national movement to improve child care, but assigning ratings.
"This is how you know your facility is really interested in assuring that your children have what they need to be successful in school," Cagle said.
More than 1200 childcare centers, family daycares and after-school programs have applied to become Quality Rated, and so far, 154 are rated. Each center receives a Quality Rating of one, two or three stars.
While getting three stars is good, Commissioner Cagle stressed that any star at all is good because it means the center has volunteered to join the program and strive for quality.
Robinson, who worked in Florida's Quality Rated System, is pleased to see Georgia join the program.
"It's looking at teacher qualifications, looking at the environment in which the children are learning. Looking at all kinds of accountability measures," Robinson said.
"We do encourage parents to ask for quality rated because this is how you know your facility is really interested in assuring that your children have what they need to be successful in school," said Cagle.
To find out if your center is Quality Rated, go to: http://www.decal.ga.gov/