Joni Goodwin, of Aspen, left, leads Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale training participants through an assessment of a classroom at the Meeker Preschool on November 19. Connections 4 Kids early childhood council hosted the training to teach early childhood professionals how to use the scale to assess their classrooms. Trained participants will soon be eligible to apply for mini-grants to obtain some materials identified as needs through the self-assessment.

Courtesy of Michelle Balleck

Joni Goodwin, of Aspen, left, leads Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale training participants through an assessment of a classroom at the Meeker Preschool on November 19. Connections 4 Kids early childhood council hosted the training to teach early childhood professionals how to use the scale to assess their classrooms. Trained participants will soon be eligible to apply for mini-grants to obtain some materials identified as needs through the self-assessment.

Connections 4 Kids trains early childhood care providers in environmental rating scales

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Connections 4 Kids is helping to create better environments for children in early childhood programs.

Connections 4 Kids recently hosted Environmental Rating Scale training events in Meeker and Craig. The training taught early childhood providers to use a self-assessment tool to help identify needs in their programs.

"We host these trainings because we think it's important to support providers because they're working with children everyday," Connections 4 Kids coordinator, Michelle Balleck said.

The Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation funded the training opportunities.

Seven people attended the family childcare environment rating scale training in Craig and 18 people attended the training in Meeker.

"The rating scales are designed not to criticize providers but to identify ways they can improve," Balleck said.

Balleck said the scales are very specific and cover several categories giving the category "diversity" as an example. Questions ask teachers how well diversity is represented in their room, whether it be posters, toys, cultural music or books.

Balleck said specific questions lead providers to determine their rank on a scale of 1-7.

Connections 4 Kids is going one step further than just providing the training, and beginning in January will allow those who have been trained to apply for mini-grants.

The grants are to be used to equip classrooms with needed materials identified through the environmental rating scale.

According to a news release, Connections 4 Kids awarded more than $6,500 in classroom grants to Moffat and Rio Blanco County centers last year for materials, including furniture, rugs, puzzles, balls, sand toys and cultural music.

For more information about the program or the Environment Rating Scale trainings, contact Michelle Balleck at (970) 824-8282 ext. 47 or mballeck@moffatcounty.net.

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