Research shows that children who are in high quality child care and early learning programs when they are young are better prepared for kindergarten with better reading skills, more math skills and larger vocabularies. Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey’s Quality Rating Improvement System, is New Jersey’s state program to raise the quality of child care and early learning state-wide. Grow NJ Kids is a collaborative effort of the State of New Jersey’s Departments of Children and Families, Education, Health and Human Services. For parents, it provides information on how to select a quality provider to help them make the most of their kid’s early learning opportunities. For child care and early learning programs, it provides professional resources that help raise their quality and continuously improve their programs.
Similar to a NAEYC review and credential program, child care, day care, nursery school and Pre-K programs; both public and private, can volunteer to enroll in the Grow NJ Kids quality assurance program, which typically involves an 18 month review of the center’s facilities, staff, curriculum and operations policies by experienced educators. In 2017, Prime Time Early Learning Centers, based in Paramus NJ, made the decision to pilot a Grow NJ Kids review at its Paramus center that also serves families in the adjacent towns of Oradell, Ridgewood , River Edge and Washington Township. Prime Time’s Paramus center is its newest, opened in 2015, and offering families of young children with professionally run full-day and half-day care, summer and school holiday camps, and convenient drop in child care.
Based on early positive feedback from Paramus families and staff, in 2018 Prime Time decided to also enroll its other three New Jersey centers in Edgewater, Hoboken and East Rutherford with Grow NJ Kids. These centers serve families of babies, toddlers and young children that live or work in a large number of surrounding towns from Fort Lee to Cliffside Park, to Jersey City to Carlstadt. Currently, Prime Time Paramus has completed more than half of its Grow NJ Kids program review, which includes a detailed comparison of Prime Time’s proprietary “Prime Connections” educational curriculum with the Grow NJ Kids recommended model curriculum. The review process is detailed and time consuming as it addresses individualized curriculums for infants, babies, toddlers and Pre-K aged children. As part of the review process, Grow NJ Kids education professionals will also review Prime Time’s “Growing Green” environmental education and awareness program for young students. This month long review process may result in changes to the Prime Connections and/or Growing Green curriculums, and will apply to all four of Prime Time’s New Jersey child care centers. When Prime Time completes the review process, it is confident they will achieve the Grow NJ Kids approved status, with a Two, Three or Four Star rating.
New York State offers a similar but different quality assurance program for child care and day care centers, called “QualitystarsNY”. In 2019, Prime Time’s two centers in Wallkill (Middletown) New York and Farmingdale (Babylon) New York on Long Island will enroll in the QualityStarsNY child care and Pre-K quality review and credentialing program. Prime Time Farmingdale and Middletown also have fully developed summer camp programs for young children to age 11, and after care programs.