Profiles in Learn & Grow:
Moving Towards High-Quality Early Childhood Education
There’s a powerful shift happening in early childhood education programs across the state of Alaska.
More than 130 programs are voluntarily engaged in Learn & Grow, Alaska’s Quality Recognition and Improvement System, in order to improve the quality of their program. By participating in Learn & Grow, these programs are making a difference for young children and families by giving them a high-quality early childhood education experience — and a strong start in life!
Family Home Program | Anchorage, AK
Learn & Grow since: 2016
Lourdes Biggs launched Biggs Daycare in 1998, offering a family home child care experience, serving up to eight children (prior to COVID) between the ages of three-months to eight-years-old.
Why Learn & Grow?
Biggs Daycare has been participating in Learn and Grow since 2016. After moving into a bigger home, Biggs wanted to utilize her additional space to expand her offerings. “I needed more space for the children, both indoor and outdoor, to allow them to do more activities,” she remembered. Biggs understood the new space would change her program, and she turned to Learn & Grow for support. She explained, “I believe in quality over quantity, and do everything for the children. I want to bring quality learning and materials…have quality areas that they are safe in. I want the parents to know their children are safe here.“ Through Learn & Grow, she learned how to divide her program into multiple sections for age groups and activities, creating an area for infants, science, dramatic play, language, and social emotional development. Her Learn & Grow experience has taught her ”how to develop and improve the quality of my program and the importance of the social emotional development for children.”
Learn & Grow Participation during COVID-19
During COVID-19, Alaska’s early childhood education programs worked hard to implement new mandates, re-evaluate their processes and take necessary measures to insure the safety of the children and their staff. Biggs Daycare committed to staying open to serve her families and children.
Despite the pandemic, the quality of her program remained important to her. Biggs reported that Learn & Grow “support and resources helped a lot. I received safety information brochures for parents, and tips on how to operate and be safe during the pandemic. The support that I received from Learn & Grow, both training and technical assistance, allowed me to continue to provide a safe, stimulating environment for the children to learn.”
Looking Ahead – Staying Engaged in Quality
Biggs Daycare has come a long way since enrolling in Learn & Grow. Biggs has seen a positive change in her program and parents are recognizing her efforts. “I’ve seen a big change in my program, and I feel proud. Even the parents see that I’m making it a better and safer place for their children. Without Learn & Grow, I don’t think I would have been able to make it this far.”
She wants to keep making progress but said, “COVID has been hard. I used to have at least eight children on the waiting list prior to COVID, now I only have five children coming into the program. More financial support is needed to stay afloat. I need to be able to buy materials for the children and cover the program overhead.”
She will continue to fight to stay open, and believes it’s important to invest in quality at any time. “With everything that I have learned from just being enrolled in Learn & Grow, I believe that the state of Alaska should require all programs to be enrolled in it [Learn & Grow].”