Provider Spotlight: Provider’s Bucket List Includes Improving Quality of Child Care

Years ago, Jacqueline Jones started a bucket list. Considering her love of children and belief she could make a difference in children’s lives, Jones added “Open Child Care Program” to her list.

It’s now been almost 10 years since Jones opened a family child care program. She continues to believe that early education gives every child the foundation they need to thrive.

“It’s like building a house,” she said. “If you don’t have a solid foundation, the house won’t be a strong structure.”

Participating in Maryland EXCELS has helped Jones ensure she is providing a quality program to children and their families. She has included policies and procedures that might not have been added if it weren’t for Maryland EXCELS.

For example, before participating in Maryland EXCELS, she shared all communication with families verbally. Now, Jones has a bulletin board in her home where she posts flyers and sign-up forms for upcoming conferences.

“Since Maryland EXCELS, I just don’t have a day care, I run a business,” Jones said.

Jones feels it’s important to devote time each month to improve her program and work on increasing her Quality Rating. She attends a work group sponsored by Maryland EXCELS every month with the goal of uploading at least one or two documents to her online account during each session.

“It’s all about the quality of care,” Jones said. “Program improvement doesn’t just change your environment . . . it makes you a better person.”

Jones feels the children in her program are like her own. And as a mother of two, she wants to give her families the same level of quality that she would have wanted for her own children, who are now 16 and 21. Jones’ older daughter will be graduating as an officer at the Coast Guard Academy next year, and her younger daughter will finish high school while simultaneously earning an associate degree in health care.

Recently, Jones has added another item to her bucket list- following her daughters’ examples and pursuing a degree.

She feels it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

The idea started at one of the Maryland EXCELS work group sessions. Jones asked how she could achieve a higher credential level. Her Quality Assurance Specialist shared that a degree in early childhood education would be helpful. Jones left that session with a brochure for the Child Care Career and Professional Development Fund. Six weeks later, she returned with an acceptance letter from Notre Dame of Maryland University. She will start Notre Dame’s early childhood education degree program this fall.