UT’s Social Work Office of Research and Public Service, or SWORPS, offers a suite of programs to give more information to parents and to improve the quality of child-care in the state. Since 2001, when the program started, participation in the SWORPS Child Care Report Card Program is required for all Department of Human Services-licensed or approved child-care agencies in Tennessee. Through the Report Card, Agencies are evaluated annually on director qualifications, professional development, parent/family involvement, ratio and group size, staff compensation, developmental learning, and program assessment. The Star-Quality Child Care Program recognizes agencies that exceed minimum licensing standards. The Signal Centers: Child Care Resources & Referral Network provide resources for parents/caregivers, child care professionals, employers and the community that support quality care and development of children. These programs are funded by the Tennessee Department of Human Services and Signal Centers, Inc.
Community partners include the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Signal Centers, Inc., and Tennessee State University. University of Tennessee, Knoxville partners include the College of Social Work, Social Work Office of Research and Public Service, and the Tennessee Child Care Resource and Referral Network.
Impact on UT
In July 2012, UT’s SWORPS began managing the regional Child Care Resource and Referral office that serves 13 counties in East Tennessee. Supported by this expanded scope, UT-based specialists provide workshops, training and onsite technical assistance to child care providers and parents. In addition, they support the Tennessee Child Care Report Card Program by reviewing and interpreting for providers their Report Card results.
Impact on Community
Many states have benefited from the use of sophisticated and consistent assessment based upon an instrument that is valid and reliable. After two deaths connected to a child-care provider in 1999, SWORPS assisted the Tennessee Department of Human Services with the development and implementation of a broad program to improve child-care. Year 10 marked a continuation of progress, as measured by the Tennessee Report Card and Star Quality Program, which shows more children in Tennessee are now receiving high-quality care. The literature indicates that when a child spends a day in a high-quality child-care environment, s/he is more likely to be ready for school and, later, the adult workforce.
SWORPS Office Headquarters, 865-974-6015
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