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Regulation & Guidelines

Paths to QUALITY™- Indiana’s Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System

Research shows that high quality early childhood programs prepare children for future success in school, work and life. From birth through age 5 is the most important time for growth of the human brain. A child’s brain develops in response to the child’s experiences by building neurological networks in reaction to the environment.

A child’s experiences in a child care program can significantly contribute to that brain development and the future success of the child. High quality child care programs are essential, not only to Hoosier children, but also to their families and to the communities in which they live. Parents need stable, high quality care in order to be productive at work. They count on their child care provider to ensure that their child is safe, healthy and learning during those hours they must be at work. Our school systems need children who are entering school prepared and ready to succeed. Businesses need a high quality work force both now and in the future. In fact, studies have shown that high quality early childhood programs increase the graduation rate, reduce the future crime rate and can save up to sixteen dollars for every one dollar invested. High quality child care programs are essential to everyone.

In order to improve the quality of child care programs, states across the nation are using Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, such as the one here in Indiana, Paths to QUALITY™. Quality Rating and Improvement Systems assess the quality of care within a program, work to improve that quality level, and give families an easy to recognize symbol that makes the difficult decision of choosing child care easier. These systems also provide an accountability measure for funding and create an alignment between licensing, subsidy and quality across child care, Head Start and the Department of Education’s early learning guidelines.

Paths to QUALITY™ gives families an easy to recognize tool for selecting a child care program. Families can look for the Paths to QUALITY™ logo to determine what level their provider has achieved. Each level builds on the foundation of the previous one, resulting in significant quality improvements at each stage and in national accreditation at the highest level. The system validates child care programs for ongoing efforts to achieve higher standards of quality and provides incentives and awards for success. The four levels address:


  • Level One: Health and safety needs of children met

  • Level Two: Environment supports children’s learning

  • Level Three: Planned curriculum guides child development and school readiness

  • Level Four: National accreditation (the highest indicator of quality) is achieved

For more information on Paths to QUALITY™, please visit

Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning Home Page

Registered Ministry:

A "Child care ministry" or Registered Ministry, means child care operated by a church or religious ministry that is a religious organization exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code. Registered Ministries have a specific set of regulations they must follow to operate. Ministries may also choose to become a Voluntary Certification Program (VCP) by following an additional set of regulations.

Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning, regulates child care in the state of Indiana.

The Vine Early Learning Inc. Curriculum Overview

WHAT is “curriculum”? Simply stated, curriculum it is what you want children to learn and what you plan to teach. Curriculum should be based on what is known about child development and learning for any given age range, as well as the children’s interests. Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) means “teaching children where they are (developmentally), as individuals and as a group, and helping each child reach challenging but achievable goals …” (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). Your curriculum guides you in determining these achievable goals; what knowledge, skills, and dispositions (attitudes) you want children to learn and develop.

HOW is curriculum delivered? The “how” part includes the methods, approaches and strategies you use to help children learn. Always search for methods that are “evidence-based”, meaning studies have demonstrated that the approach is effective in helping children learn.

Examples of “HOW” include (but are not limited to):

  • Intentional teaching

  • Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP)

  • Scaffolding

  • Thoughtfully designed learning environments

  • Play-based experiences

  • Child-initiated activities

  • Teacher-directed activities

  • Modeling

  • Shared or dialogic reading experiences

WHY is curriculum important? It’s important because it clearly describes what you want children to learn; what child outcomes you are aiming for. Curriculum describes the sequence - the “what comes next” for the child to learn and you to teach so that the child moves closer to your intended learning outcome.


Montessori Methods & Practices:


  1. Children love to work purposefully.

  2. Children are motivated by an inner drive.

  3. Children’s true learning happens with concentration.

  4. Children need order in their environment and materials for development.

  5. Children need activity.

  6. Children need activities in sensorial concepts, language, arithmetic, art and culture to develop and build their personality.

  7. Children can do quite complex activities if given the opportunity.

  8. Children develop discipline from within, not from being imposed by adults.

  9. Children’s obedience is based on love, respect and faith.

All help offered to children by adults should be leading to the child’s independence.

Early Childhood Best Practices:

  • Children need choice

  • Children need a variety of interesting materials

  • Children learn from simple to complex

  • Children must move

  • Children are rewarded by their learning

  • Children need order, ritual and routine

  • Children need supportive adults and intentional interactions

  • Children need activities they are interested in

  • Children need developmentally appropriate activities that challenge them

Early Childhood Christian Value Development:

  • To instill a respect, love, and excitement for God and His Word.

  • To sow seeds of Bible truths in our littlest ones hearts.

  • To build connections between everyday life and what the Bible says.

  • To expound upon their sense of awe and wonder about their world.

  • To emphasize a love for learning through enjoyable, developmentally appropriate experiences.

Children are screened within the first month using the Ages & Stages screening tool that is completed by parents. During this time teachers also begin to gather information about the individual children through observation and work sampling.


Children’s progress is assessed through authentic assessment. Authentic assessment is a system of ongoing classroom practices to gather information of a child’s skills during their typical routines and activities to identify what they know and can do. Progress is monitored over time, observations are summarized, and these summaries are documented. These practices provide teachers with an accurate record of children's skills, which can be used to inform instruction to promote new skills. It is a systematic approach of planning what skills to promote in a lesson plan, observing those activities with regard to individual children, documenting what is seen and heard, and then using that child’s assessment information to adjust future lesson plans, accurately complete an assessment instrument, and share information with others (e.g. families, other teaching staff).