Provider Spotlight: Modeling Quality Since Maryland EXCELS’ Inception

As Maryland EXCELS celebrates its fifth birthday, we also celebrate the programs that are committed to continuous quality improvement—CentroNia being no exception.

CentroNia values and shares a vision for high-quality child care and early education, which is why the center has participated in Maryland EXCELS from the beginning.

CentroNia offers comprehensive support services in a bilingual setting for more than 2,400 families and children in Washington D.C., and suburban Maryland.

The goal of the program has always been to take a family-centered approach and offer support beyond child care and early education, said Rosalba Bonilla-Acosta, Maryland State Director for CentroNia.

By offering a quality, dual-language immersion environment for children, CentroNia holds a unique perspective on the importance of quality child care and early education for the community it serves.

Because so many families speak Spanish at home, creating the dual-language program where children can learn in both English and Spanish is a priority to acknowledge the families’ needs, Bonilla-Acosta said.

CentroNia graduates stand onstage in shiny red and blue graduation regalia.

“It’s important to keep the second language in the family, keeping that language because it’s part of your culture,” she said.

Throughout the day, children are spoken to in both Spanish and English, including receiving instruction in both languages. Teachers are always available to support those children who may still be learning the primary language being spoken for a particular lesson or activity.

In addition to being an exemplary Maryland EXCELS program, CentroNia offers an open-door policy for other programs and providers in the community who want to observe best practices in child care and early education as they work toward achieving a higher quality rating in Maryland EXCELS.

Bonilla-Acosta also encourages other providers to take advantage of the training and other opportunities offered by Maryland EXCELS to improve their programs.

“It’s a great opportunity,” she said. “If you have a plan, you can look at different areas, and it’s worth doing. And it feels good when you reach different levels—it’s a way to measure quality and that you’re doing a good job.”

The center’s staff also strives to get to know each family as soon as they start bringing their child.

“They come in for child care. Then they start to feel at home,” Bonilla-Acosta said. “We engage them from the beginning.”

Families are encouraged to volunteer and take advantage of the open-door policy to visit CentroNia to spend time with their children and see how they learn.

“We welcome parents in the morning, we welcome them at pickup. We want to make them feel like they are a part of a community,” Bonilla-Acosta said.

CentroNia’s goal is to provide holistic care and support for children and families to ensure the families they serve have the support and encouragement they need to succeed academically, develop a strong sense of community, and live healthy and active lives.