December 12, 2017
At Minds in Motion Child Care in Montgomery County, being family-oriented is more than a simple philosophy – family is the backbone of the organization.
The program is owned and operated by sisters Teresa, LaTisha, and Latrice Gasaway. The sisters started the program in 2008 as a before- and after-care program at a church in Potomac before opening their full-service child care center in Gaithersburg. Today, the sisters operate both locations and serve 165 children total, and they are growing their program through participation in Maryland EXCELS and the Child Care Subsidy program that helps them enhance their program for families and staff.
One of their unique program offerings is the creative dance program, which is available to children age 2 and older. “The [dance] instructor creates a whole curriculum with exercise, movement, music, instruments, and song,” said LaTisha Gasaway. “It gets [the children] going, gets [them] exercised, and gets their energy out.”
The program’s success is already leading to more exciting opportunities for the children. “We’re also implementing American Sign Language instruction, because our dance teacher is also fluent in ASL,” Gasaway said.
For the sisters, being family-oriented extends beyond the walls of their child care program. They host events for the community throughout the year and offer resources to families enrolled in their program who are in need.
“I like to pay special attention to families who attend the ResCare program in Gaithersburg, at-risk children, and families in shelters,” said Gasaway. “Since 2008, we’ve helped over 250 families who need assistance beyond what the county can provide,” she said. This assistance includes help with transportation, finances, and navigating the Child Care Subsidy application process.
Additionally, Minds in Motion hosts seasonal festivals open to the community. Gasaway said the festivals are “always packed” with families from both the program and the community. The team recently held this year’s Thanksgiving festival and Thanksgiving dance showcase.
“We want to be a link to the community,” she said.
Rewarding Hard Work
The Minds in Motion team’s hard work doesn’t end with their community involvement. Earlier this year, the program increased their published Quality Rating from 2 to 3 in Maryland EXCELS.
“We looked at our program and felt we needed to be a step above, so we took the journey,” said Erica Woodruff, Minds in Motion’s regional assistant director. To achieve a higher quality rating, “we had to make changes in the classroom, ourselves, and the curriculum. We trained our teachers to become better leaders and more proficient at what they do.”
“We see happier students and teachers, more parent involvement, and better structure. Students are retaining more,” Woodruff shared.
A higher Maryland EXCELS Quality Rating allowed Minds in Motion to reap additional financial benefits from Child Care Subsidy. The team has already purchased new transit vans this year using the additional funding.
As the program pursues Quality Ratings 4 and 5, they will receive even higher Maryland EXCELS payments from Child Care Subsidy. Woodruff said the team plans to use those additional resources to build a new playground and furnish a computer lab with Chromebooks.
“Our ultimate goal is to become Level 5 and [have our staff] credentialed within a year,” Woodruff said. “Maryland EXCELS is great because [it provides] assistance, support, and it makes you want to do more.”
Her team wanted to acknowledge their Quality Assurance Specialist Yvonne Bell and their Program Coordinator Lin Phelps for their support.
Could Maryland EXCELS payments be benefitting your program, too? Discover eligibility requirements and tiered reimbursement payment information here.