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Explaining the state's new quality rating system for child care centers

A new program to help improve the quality of care at child care centers in Iowa rolled out this month.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A new system to measure the overall quality in places like child care centers and child development homes rolled out statewide this month. 

Iowa Quality For Kids, or IQ4K, hopes to help improve structures in those centers. 

On April 1, Iowa changed its indicator for measuring quality child care from the Quality and Improvement System to IQ4K. 

Alex Carfrae, the public information officer for the Iowa Department of Human Services, said in an email sent to the new indicator is focused on "increasing overall quality of care, health and safety standards for childcare programs in Iowa." 

Capitol Park Early Learning Center Executive Director Whitney Fink said the program gives updated guidelines on things like nutrition and physical activity, professional development and leadership and administration. 

Under each of those categories, centers have five levels they can reach. To get to the next level, staff at the facilities have to go through training. 

"It's going to take a little bit more work, but it's going to help the kids. It's going to increase the quality you are able to provide to the kid," Fink said.

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Once centers achieve a new IQ4K level, they get a bonus payment or increased child care reimbursements from the state to be used on anything they choose.

Fink's center will be applying to enroll in the IQ4K once their current license with the old system expires this year. She is excited to help build more structure and improve the systems already in place.

The program is also based on evidence-based practices. 

"This is another way we can demonstrate to our families our commitment to quality," Fink said.

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