Quality Improvement Initiatives

Steps to Quality

The Steps to Quality Family Child Care Initiative was a pilot program of Grow NJ Kids funded through The Nicholson Foundation. The goal of the project was to improve the quality of care in family child care homes in three New Jersey counties. Child Care Connection (Mercer) worked as the lead agency in collaboration with Community Child Care Solutions (Middlesex) and Programs for Parents (Essex). Through this initiative, Child Care Connection’s early childhood specialist provided on-site technical assistance and training to family child care providers in five key areas:

  • Safe, Healthy Learning Environments
  • Curriculum and the Learning Environment
  • Family and Community Engagement
  • Workforce/Professional Development
  • Administration and Management

Program benefits included free training; free professional liability insurance; free materials and equipment; free on-site technical assistance visits by an early childhood specialist; free materials and professional resources. To read about this exciting initiative, please see the Steps to Quality Year 3 Report under Forms.

To view the full report from Steps to Quality Year 3, see link at right.

Strengthening Families

Each year four child care centers and two family child care providers in Mercer County are chosen to participate in New Jersey’s Strengthening Families Initiative (SFI). SFI assists early childhood staff in building strategies that strengthen families, guide optimal child development, and reduce child abuse and neglect. New Jersey’s SFI uses a national and international initiative, the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework. This approach aims to develop and enhance five specific protective factors:

  • Parental Resilience
  • Social Connections
  • Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development
  • Concrete Support in Times of Need
  • Social Emotional Competence in Children

This strength-based approach supports an awareness that stronger families are central to keeping children safe and helping them develop to their fullest potential. Through SFI, participating child care centers and family child care providers receive training on the protective factors listed above. Each center establishes a small team of parents and staff to self-assess and coordinate improvements. Generally, Strengthening Families is implemented through a series of “small but significant changes” to daily practice.