thread, Alaska‘s statewide Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency, has announced that Meghan Johnson has been named the first ever Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Director. Johnson will be collaborating with a statewide team to oversee the development of a QRIS to advance the quality of early care and education in Alaska.
QRIS is a rating system for child care, including Head Start, pre-elementary and pre-kindergarten programs, similar to other consumer rating systems that rate goods or services. It sets standards for excellence and then provides pathways to help programs continually improve to meet the standards. When it’s fully functional, families will have access to the rating information and can make more informed choices about the care their children receive.
“Research shows that when a child experiences quality early care and education, they are better prepared for school, healthier, and more successful than children in lower quality care settings,” explained Stephanie Berglund, thread CEO. “With this new position, thread will be assisting the state in implementing an essential building block to offering families higher quality early education, and child care teachers better articulated career paths, financial incentives and professional development opportunities.”
“We are fortunate to have Meghan in this role as she is especially qualified,” said Ms. Berglund. “In addition to strong management skills, she has first-hand experience developing a QRIS and a long time commitment to social services in Alaska.”
No stranger to thread, Johnson served as the Director of On-Site Consultation from 2003-2008. During that time she worked with a statewide team to develop recommendations for the implementation of a statewide QRIS.
“I am honored and excited to be back at thread to take on this new role,” said Ms. Johnson. “We have a tremendous opportunity to improve child care in Alaska through a proven system. I look forward to working with our partners statewide to ensure QRIS is successfully implemented.”
thread received funding from the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Assistance, to support the development and implementation of a QRIS for Alaska. While more than 25 states have successfully implemented QRIS, this is the first time Alaska has dedicated capacity to move the effort forward.
“The department and the Division of Public Assistance are excited to build on the strong partnership between the state and thread,” said Health and Social Services Child Care Program Manager Marcey Bish. “A well designed QRIS will not only result in positive outcomes for children, families and providers but also in long term beneficial social and economic impacts to Alaskan communities and the state as a whole,” stated Ms. Bish. “We look forward to working with Meghan, thread and other early care and education stakeholders on making the future a little brighter for Alaska’s youngest.”
Johnson assumed her new position on December 9th. She has over 20 years of experience working with infants and toddlers, families, educators and children with special needs. Most recently, she served as the training coordinator for the State Early Intervention/Infant Learning Program where she developed a comprehensive system for professional development. She holds a M.S. in Early Intervention from the University of Oregon and a post graduate certificate in Infant Mental Health from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.