In addition to a significant expansion of access to prekindergarten programs, the Blueprint for Maryland’s future puts a strong emphasis on improving the quality of existing and new programs.
Maryland’s quality rating and improvement system for child care, Head Start, and school-based prekindergarten programs. The program helps child care and early education programs increase and maintain quality and assists families in finding quality child care and early education programs. Since 2013, Maryland EXCELS (Excellence Counts in Early Learning and School Age Care) has been the state’s quality rating and improvement system that awards ratings from Levels 1 to 5 to child care and early education programs based on nationally recognized standards and best practices. Quality Assurance Specialists work in every jurisdiction to support child care providers and Districts. Maryland EXCELS provides information that families need to make informed decisions when choosing child care and early education programs. Using a thorough but easy-to-understand rating system, Maryland EXCELS, sets a standard for increasing the availability of high quality child care and early education for children in Maryland. Prekindergarten programs receiving state funds and those accepting child care scholarships must participate in Maryland EXCELS.
Funding: The FY2023 budget includes $5 million. For FY2024 through 2028, funding for the program increases by 10% over the prior fiscal year.
Eligible Applicants: Licensed child care centers, Letters of Compliance, registered family child care home providers, and after school programs
Child Care Accreditation Support Fund
The Child Care Accreditation Support Fund pays for the application fee for an approved accrediting organization on behalf of a provider or reimburses a child care provider for a program improvement cost. Child care centers, registered family child care home providers, school-age only programs, and public prekindergarten programs receive assistance with the cost of Maryland Accreditation or 11 national accreditations. National Accreditation assists licensed child care centers and registered family child care providers with required national accreditation fees for i application, renewal application, and annual update. Maryland Accreditation assists licensed child care centers cost of instructional materials associated with pursuing Maryland Accreditation. Develops standards that define quality policies and practices in program administration, program operation, and home and community partnerships. Provides technical assistance so programs can identify which areas need improvement to enhance the program’s quality and ability to meet Maryland Accreditation Standards.
Funding: The FY2023 budget includes $1 million.
Eligibility: Licensed child care centers and registered family child care home providers.
Child Care Incentive Grant Program
The Child Care Incentive Grant Program supports improving the child care provider’s quality through the purchase of approved materials, equipment and supplies.
Funding: The FY2023 budget includes $110,000. For FY2024 through 2028, funding for the program increases by 10% over the prior fiscal year.
Eligibility: Licensed child care providers and registered family child care home providers.
Kindergarten Readiness Assessment
All students entering kindergarten are required to be assessed with an unbiased Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.
Workforce and Credentialing
Changes to requirements for staffing qualifications will be phased in through school year 2025-2026. These changes include requirements that teachers, at a minimum, hold a state certification for teaching in early childhood education or a bachelor’s degree in any field and are pursuing residency through the Maryland Approved Alternative Preparation Program, which includes early childhood coursework, clinical practice, and evidence of pedagogical content knowledge. Additionally, teaching assistants must have at least a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate or An associate’s degree.
Maryland Child Care Credential Program
The Maryland Child Care Credential Program recognizes individual child care providers who increase their qualifications beyond the requirements of state licensing and registration regulations. Individuals may be awarded an achievement bonus, training reimbursement, or training voucher. The Maryland Child Care Credential is a voluntary professional development career pathway that recognizes child care providers who go beyond the minimum requirements of State regulations. There are seven staff credential levels and four administrator credential levels, each one recognizing a child care provider’s achievement of a specified number of education and training clock hours, experience and professional activities. Participating providers are required to complete training in six Core of Knowledge areas that have been identified as essential knowledge to develop the skills and practices to provide the best possible care for the children and families they serve. Child care providers who are enrolled in the Credentialing program may receive bonuses ranging from $200 – $1500.
Funding: The FY2023 budget includes $5,170,000. In FY2024, funding for the program increases by 10% over the prior fiscal year.
Eligibility: Registered family child care home providers and child care center staff
Child Care Career and Professional Development Program
The Child Care Career and Professional Development Fund (CCCPDF) is a tuition assistance program for child care providers to obtain a college education at participating colleges/universities in Maryland (9 universities and 14 community colleges). Funding is available for child care providers to earn a college degree in the following areas: early childhood education, child development, elementary education, and special education.
Funding: No state funds have been allocated.
Eligibility: Registered family child care home providers and child care center staff who have obtained at least a level 2 in the Maryland Child Care Credential Program.