Lisa Lee, owner of Lee’s Family Daycare in Morgantown, KY has made her dream a reality. Lisa Lee received notice October 15 that she had met and exceeded the criteria necessary to be rated as a 4-STAR early childhood setting.
Lisa is the wife of Jeff Lee and the proud mother of Katie Lee Wilson and Ernest Lee. She also has the honor of being a grandmother to two toddlers, Ava Grace and Owen Lee. Lisa moved to Butler County when she and Jeff married in 1985 and was employed by Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems from 1988 until 2002 when they closed the plant in Morgantown. At that time, Lisa began a new journey as she went back to college and began her studies in education. While going to school, Lee became employed at a local child care center. After the BRADD financial program ended for Lee, she was able to access the KIDS NOW Scholarship to continue her education because of her employment in a licensed child care facility. After working in the child care program for a while, Lee decided that early childhood was her passion and she began working towards her dream of owning her own child care facility. Lisa began working with the local Child Care Resource & Referral at WKU and learned how she could become a Certified Family Day Care program. In 2004, she opened her doors as Lee’s Family Day Care caring for a maximum of six children at a time in her home.
As a regulated provider, Lisa was able to continue accessing the KIDS NOW Early Childhood Scholarship, which allowed her to continue her coursework at WKU on a part-time basis while she managed and worked in the child care facility 11 hours a day/5 days a week. Lisa began to set many goals for herself along the way, sometimes wondering if she would ever reach them. All along this journey, Lisa has had the support of her family and the families of the children she cared for.
In 2005 she earned a Kentucky Director’s Credential, a state certificate that is earned though college coursework that shows individuals have business management and educational knowledge. In 2009 she was awarded her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. As she continued her professional growth, Lisa began to focus on additional goals for her business. After being open for approximately a year, Lisa became involved in the STARS for KIDS NOW Quality Rating System. This is a voluntary system designed to show that a child care program is seeking higher standards of quality than the minimum requirements for licensing or certification. The STARS Quality Rating System assigns programs a STAR level of 1-4 STARS based on indicators of quality such as: the training and education of the provider, the quality of the interactions between children and adults, the involvement of families within the program, and of course, the quality of the learning activities and materials available for the children. When Lisa entered the STARS program in October 2005, she was quickly rated as a 3-STAR program. After earning the 3-star, Lisa began to examine the requirements of the 4-STAR and what it would take to earn the highest rating. Most of the requirements she either met (education level of provider) or with a little work could meet quickly (renovating the outside play area and addition of materials in the environment), however, there was one criteria that had high cost associated with it and took time to complete – the accreditation by a national organization. Lisa set out with a new goal– earning that accreditation and applying for a 4-STAR rating.
That journey began as Lisa continued working with the CCR&R at WKU, and the local Professional Development Counselor and Stars Quality Coordinator with the Quality Enhancement Initiative. She received the information from the National Association of Family Child Care and after conducting a self-study of her program where she made some changes to the services she was providing in an effort to enhance the quality of her program, she applied for her accreditation visit. In July 2011, she received notice that she had met all of the requirements of the accreditation system and earned that accreditation.
The journey did not stop there. As soon as she received that notice, she was making phone calls to determine what the next steps were to apply for that 4-STAR rating. This process involved the submission of paperwork, training records and a special site visit by the STAR-Rating personnel to be rated on the environmental rating scales for Family Day Care. That site visit was made in mid-September and Lisa Lee received notice on October 15, 2011 that she met all requirements and rating scores required for a 4-STAR program.
Throughout her journey, Lisa continued to access programs and projects funded from the KIDS NOW initiative. Not only did she have the opportunity for the scholarship and the STARS program, she also participated in projects funded through the Butler-Edmonson Community Early Childhood Council. Those funds helped her obtain the necessary materials and equipment for her learning environment as well as funds that were used for continued professional development. The KIDS NOW initiative also has financial assistance available to help providers with accreditation fees, which Lisa also accessed during that process. The KIDS NOW initiative was implemented exactly for these purposes – enhancing the quality of child care in Kentucky in order to better service children and families. Lisa’s determination and her partnerships with these programs have enabled her to reach both her professional and personal goals in better serving the children of Butler County with a nationally accredited 4 STAR program.
Over the past eight years, Lisa has continued her education, maintained certified regulatory requirements as well as STAR standards, all the while providing care to children 5 days a week and being at every school and family event! Congratulations to Lisa AND her family on earning this award. Thank you all for the hard work, time, and dedication to the families you serve.
According to data provided by the CCR&R at WKU, as of August 15, 2011, there were 608 certified homes in KY. Of these only six (6) are 4-STAR rated. Lisa’s program is also the first in the ten-county Barren River Area to hold a 4-STAR rating.