The Quality Counts Quality Rating System (QRS) assists Illinois After School programs in providing quality care for children, youth, and their families. A provider’s participation in QRS means they have gone the extra mile to help make sure children and youth are receiving an enhanced learning and care experience. Quality care can help children and youth succeed in school and in life. The Illinois AfterSchool Network will enhance the existing system by training 10 regional After School Specialists who will then provide strategic technical assistance and relationship based training within a consultant model to approximately 50 After School Programs throughout the state with an overall long-term goal of familiarizing and assisting these programs through the QRS process.
This will be accomplished by recruiting high-quality After School trainers in the state to serve as After School Specialists. The After School Specialists will deliver technical assistance and train practitioners in their after-school environments, using the School-Age Care Environmental Rating Scale (SACERS) tool and focusing on its components. Information will also be shared with participants on After School Accreditation by offering an Accreditation Overview Training through the Council on Accreditation (COA). Financial assistance to programs who are striving to increase the quality of their programs through program improvement and/or accreditation will also be a valuable and important element to this project. The After School programs that will be selected to benefit from this project will go through a thorough and competitive application process in order to ensure that the Illinois AfterSchool Network is attracting programs that are committed to this project and to the Quality Rating System.
Out of the 50 After School programs which will be selected by the Illinois AfterSchool Network, 10 will be license exempt After School programs. This will allow IAN to include other sectors of After School that might not be included within the current IDHS Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) or on the program’s local Child Care Resource and Referral database. As with all projects, the Illinois AfterSchool Network will track the data for this project from beginning to end, along with hiring a Project Coordinator to assist with the following: coordination of trainings, peer support meetings, providing resources for After School Specialists and providers, and data collection/tracking/reporting, etc.
Benefits of Illinois After School Specialists Project:
- Increase interest and use of the SACERS tool through the Quality Rating System
- Increase, interest and buy in of the Quality Rating System by After School professionals and programs throughout the entire state of Illinois.
- 10 of the 50 programs that will be a part of this project will be licensed-exempt providers (school districts, faith based, for profit, etc).
- Improvement of “quality” for After School programs throughout the state of Illinois.
- Regional efforts throughout the state to strengthen (strategic technical assistance and resources) After School programs throughout the state.
- Impact on programs through program improvement grants
- Overall impact on children and youth attending After School programs throughout the state.