Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TOP STORY > >Cabot daycare wins top state rating

Leader staff writer

Cabot Zones Kidz Spotz has received a quality-app-roved child care rating from the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Debra Browning bought Cabot Zones at 103 Kilgore Drive in 1998. It was a teenage recreation center with pool tables, video games and a dance hall. In 2002, Cabot Zones switched focus to become a child care facility. She said for two years it was a before- and after-school program.

Browning said Cabot Zones came into the Better Beginnings program, the state’s quality rating-improvement system for early education and care a year ago when it was a pilot program. In January, Cabot Zones learned it was quality rated. Last May, the center became Better Beginnings certified.

Browning said she has applied and is on the list to be an Arkansas Better Chance Pre-K program and an early Head Start program.

She said Better Beginnings “provides more curriculum-centered activities versus empty time. Children learn while they play and do not realize it.”

“I felt the kids weren’t doing enough. I didn’t think they were having fun. It was so rigid. I thought there should be something better here,” Browning said.

She said Cabot Zones had to be completely restructured. Before participating in the Better Beginnings program, children at the child-care center used the pool tables, played outside or watched television. Now the center is divided into learning areas — science, reading, animal care, arts and crafts, and block-play games.

There are imagination-based activities for children. They can pretend to be working in a pizza restaurant, being in a kitchenette, dress up with different costumes or playing with dolls. A group of three to four children rotate to different learning areas every 45 minutes. Browning said there is a minimum of time spent watching television.

“We don’t force children to do anything they don’t want to do. It is a free choice. If they don’t want to do an art project they can play with the animals,” Browning said.

She said the younger children go to learning areas with numbers and letters. It is all geared towards learning.

Child-care center director Lindsey Discus said, “It is more organized. Things run more smoothly; before it was like a babysitter, now there is a schedule. Kids know what they will be doing.”

“Children don’t want to leave, because they want to stay and play. Kids want to be here. (They’re) excited to be learning and playing,” Discus said.

Cabot Zones has separate rooms, one is for 6-week-olds to 5-years-olds and the other room is for 6-to 12-year-olds.

Browning said that 50 percent of the staff is child-development-accreditation certified. Employees attend classes on child development at Arkansas State University Beebe. The classes are paid in part with grants from the state’s Department of Human Services.

She said 90 percent of her staff have been working at Cabot Zones for three years or more. Browning says she hires employees experienced with a child-care background. Cabot Zones averages 10 employees. Browning said the center is licensed for 117 children after school, a maximum of 47 children in daycare and 24 children in Pre-K classes.

Browning said children atten-ding Cabot Zones eat nutritious home-cooked meals and snacks. She limits serving processed foods. She said children are taught nutrition and how to eat balanced meals.

On the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services website, there are five “quality” approved child-care centers in Cabot including, besides Cabot Zones Kidz Spotz, Cabot United Methodist Church CDC, Westside Pre-School, Northside Elementary Pre-K and Cabot Public Schools Pre-K.

Cabot Zones has a website at www.cabotzones.com.