LIVINGSTON, NJ — The YMCA Peanut Shell Early Childhood Learning Center, which provides child care and education programs for infants and children six weeks to 5 years old in Livingston, recently received a three-star rating for its successful completion of the rigorous, research-based Grow NJ Kids quality rating program.

Grow NJ Kids, the state's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), offers child care and early-learning programs access to training, professional development, staff scholarships for continuing education and targeted technical assistance. Professional raters visit the program to review quality standards and then program participants receive ratings—up to five stars—by meeting an extensive list of quality benchmarks

More than 40 states across the country have a form of QRIS. In New Jersey, the program is administered by the Departments of Children and Families, Education, Health and Human Services.

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The rating will help further the school’s mission to provide quality child care in a safe, fun and nurturing environment.

"I am proud of this rating from Grow NJ Kids, and especially proud of the incredible staff here at Peanut Shell who stop at nothing to ensure we provide the highest quality education every single day,” said Stephanie Kirby Anderson, M.S. Ed., Peanut Shell director. "Their focus on detail allows us to make the greatest impact on the children and communities we serve."

Andrea Breitwieser, Grow NJ Kids coordinator, added that Peanut Shell Early Childhood Learning Center should be proud of the rating, as participation in Grow NJ Kids indicates the center provides a higher standard of care that exceeds New Jersey’s licensing standards.

"Grow NJ Kids offers resources to help educate parents on the importance of quality child care and early childhood education," she said. “It also gives parents and families the tools needed to find programs that will make the most of their kid’s early learning experiences."

Peanut Shell is the child care location for the West Essex YMCA, a branch of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges. For more than 30 years, Peanut Shell has been providing a wide variety of creative and motivating activities that instill a love of learning.

The center is state-licensed and the only child care program in Livingston accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

For more information about Peanut Shell Early Childhood Learning Center, visit westessexymca.org or look up Peanut Shell on Facebook.