By Stefanie Camoni
How long have you been a Quality Coach/STARS specialist? Meet Aubryn Wojtkielewicz. She started with Community Services for Children in October of 2015. When she first started with the agency, Aubryn was a Race to the Top Specialist. She was later promoted to an RTT Coach and is currently a Quality Coach for ELRC 12. She has been an RTT Coach/Quality coach for about 3 years. Aubryn shared a bit about her work.
How many centers do you serve?
I serve around 80 programs.
What counties do you work in?
Aubryn: I work mostly in Lackawanna and Wayne County with a few Susquehanna providers.
What did you do prior to coming on to this role?
Aubryn: Prior to my Quality Coach work, I worked in child care and at a school district as a substitute. I also worked in summer camp programs as camp director and a teacher. Growing up in a family child care gave me the opportunity to see how everything works in the business. I think this gave me a different perspective than some and a deep respect for child care work.
What does a day in the life look like?
Aubryn: A typical day in the life of a Quality Coach consists of visiting a program and meeting the program director. After that, I usually tour the facility and talk to the program about their goals. We discuss challenges throughout the tour and talk about possible solutions. After seeing the facility, we meet for a bit to discuss goals, challenges, and their upcoming designation. After that visit, I may go to another program or I may go back to my office. Once I return to the office, I look for any resources needed to support the program I just met with and send them any guidance. Then, I spend time fielding phone calls and emails to support any questions my providers may have.
What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) your programs face?
Aubryn: The biggest challenge I see programs have is staffing. It can be difficult to maintain quality staff. Child care requires true passion and love for what you do, and not everyone decides to stay in the field.
Why do you believe programs should be a part of the Keystone STARS program?
Aubryn: Keystone STARS offers so many benefits to the facilities, staff, and children and their families. In order for a program to move up the 4 star levels, they have to meet certain research-based best practices. This promotes an effective, safe, and positive environment within the child care. For meeting these quality standards, the program can receive support grants, CCW add-ons, professional development support, education financial supports, and a quality coach to support your programs goals. To me, becoming part of the stars program is a benefit for the program as a whole. This impacts all levels of the program, which can make the program more successful.
Tell me about a success story you’ve seen in any of your programs.
Aubryn: While working with the Race to the Top initiative, I met a woman at the DHS orientation who was very eager to open her facility. She lived in one of the counties we considered a high risk area for child care. She had a unique idea to open a group child care home in a nursing home. Together, we worked on all the quality standards, and I supported her with room arrangement. When this site was up and running, it was very well received by the nursing home and the community. Soon after, the program opened another location in the same county. This program continues to thrive and the owner has met the goals she has set for herself. They continue to work hard and make adjustments to support best practice in their facility. This not only has been a success for the owner, but also a big support for the community it is in.
What is one tip/advice you could give to programs to be successful.
Aubryn: To be successful in Keystone STARS, my biggest advice would be to talk to your quality coach about your goals and how you can meet quality standards. I also think it is important to just ask questions when you are not sure what something means or ask for help when you need it. We are here to help and find ways your program can meet the standards. The Keystone Stars program is not cookie cutter, so it allows programs to meet these best practices in their own way.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that speaks to you?
Aubryn: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar