The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) has selected Shine Early Learning to administer services for YoungStar, the state’s child care quality rating and improvement system. The contract officially began Nov. 15, 2022.
As the state’s new YoungStar administrator, Shine Early Learning will partner with community-based programs and public systems to provide a broad range of services that support child care providers, including coaching, rating and group training. As it works to ensure a smooth transition for statewide YoungStar-participating providers, Shine will drive collaboration and impact, ultimately resulting in increased access and quality of care for children and families. The full transition is expected to be complete in May 2023.
“Ensuring children have access to healthy learning environments that allow them to grow and explore is critical to thriving communities and a bright future for our state,” said DCF Secretary Emilie Amundson. “Our new partnership with Shine Early Learning on our YoungStar program will help us continue to make that vision a reality for all Wisconsin children and families.”
Erin Gernetzke, MSW, has been named Shine Early Learning’s YoungStar project director. Most recently, Gernetzke served for seven years as the quality initiatives section manager for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, for which she led the administration of statewide early care and school-age care quality improvement initiatives, including YoungStar. Before that, Gernetzke worked for the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA).
To integrate diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and to increase responsiveness to community needs and engagement, Shine is partnering with long-standing and well-known local, state and national early childhood and out-of-school-time organizations: WECA, the Wisconsin Registry (the Registry), the Wisconsin Afterschool Network (WAN), Reach Dane and the Erikson Institute. With Athena Communications, these Shine partners will solicit feedback from families to identify community-level priorities for early childhood education and school-age care programs.
“We are excited to see Shine bring its strong leadership and proven track record of supporting child care programs in their quality improvement journeys while keeping the needs of all Wisconsin’s children front and center,” said WECA Executive Director Ruth Schmidt. “As a longtime advocate for Wisconsin’s early childhood workforce and child care programs, WECA is honored to partner with Shine and help advance this important work.”
Since 2011, Shine Early Learning has worked with individual early childhood providers, states, municipalities and school districts to implement proven practices that deliver positive results for children, families and communities. Shine is partnering with key early childhood stakeholders in Wisconsin to provide local expertise and experience aimed at dramatically improving early childhood outcomes, reducing disparities, and increasing access to affordable, high-quality care options that meet the individual needs of Wisconsin’s youngest children. The partnership also will strengthen Wisconsin’s workforce for early childhood education and school-age care by ensuring providers have better access to the tools, resources and quality supports they need.
“Shine Early Learning and our partners are thrilled to work with the Department of Children and Families and organizations across Wisconsin to implement and scale YoungStar. The combination of expertise and experience among the collaborative is powerful,” said Shine Early Learning CEO and Co-Founder Henry Wilde. “We are committed to making a significant impact on young children and families.”
DCF will continue to share information with all current child care providers statewide about the contract transition, timelines, frequently asked questions and opportunities to engage via the YoungStar web page and through stakeholder groups.
Read the full press release.