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A bunch of rising stars
Gainesville day care center earns label of distinction
Kid’s Quest Child Development Center Older 3’s classroom teachers Amber Jackson, right, and Mandy Gilstrap lead the class in "The Bumblebee Song" on Friday afternoon at the child development center off Clarks Bridge Road. The private child care center has been named a Center of Distinction from a state agency.

A private child care center in Gainesville has become one of the first in Northeast Georgia to be named a Center of Distinction by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s "Bright from the Start" program.

Kid’s Quest Child Development Center received the award, which is presented to child care centers providing care for children up to 4 years old. The certification means the center is providing nurturing and educational activities that stimulate healthy development and learning.

"State and national awards like the Center of Distinction can help parents evaluate their choices for child care," said Dixie Kinard, Bright from the Start board member from the 9th Congressional District. "I hope other child care providers in our area will consider working toward becoming a Center of Distinction.

Bright from the Start created the voluntary Standards of Care program in 1998 to support higher quality child care and early learning in Georgia. Child care centers participating in the standard’s program can work toward becoming a Center of Distinction.

"It’s the top thing to accomplish and you have to change gears in how you do things," said Havilyn H. Towns, who purchased Kids Quest three years ago. "We thought it was so much better for the kids."

Towns said she had support from Gainesville State College in reaching the recognition.

"I’m incredibly proud of my teachers, they had to change their habits and they have to keep it up because it comes up for renewal every two years," Towns said.

The instructors took courses that were held at the Georgia Mountains Center and others at the Bright from the Start center near Georgia State University in Atlanta.

The state agency said that research validates the critical importance of appropriate care and education during the first years of a child’s life. The standards program came in response to the research.

The center is licensed for 150 children, but serves 193 because of dual sessions of pre-K and after-school programs.

The Department of Early Care and Learning was separated from the Department of Family and Children’s Services to administer child care and early learning programs in the state. The department administers Georgia’s pre-K program, which is funded by the Georgia Lottery. In addition, the agency licenses child care centers, registers home-based child care providers and administers federal nutrition programs.