Quality For Maine

Press Release

Step-Four Program Award Release

Funny Farm Wins State’s Highest Recognition for Excellence in Early Care and Education

- October 15, 2008

In recognition of its excellent child care program and its ongoing commitment to children, the Funny Farm School has received an Award for the Highest Level on the Maine Early Care and Education Quality Rating System, Quality For ME, from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Early Childhood Division.

“We applaud the Funny Farm School for its commitment to children. By going above and beyond Maine’s licensing standards, Funny Farm School gives its young children the opportunity to grow and develop in a stimulating, nurturing environment,” said Carolyn Drugge, State Child Care Administrator.

Maine’s Quality Rating System is a voluntary rating system for early care and education centers and family child care homes. Participating programs can earn a one, two, three or four step rating by meeting an extensive list of quality bench­marks. Experts say these benchmarks improve the growth and development potential of children. The rating system gives parents a useful tool for selecting quality early childhood programs.

Quality Programs at this Highest Level meet the following criteria:

          Met the standards for national level accreditation through (National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Family Child Care Association, National After School Alliance or American Montessori Association) or met all the Head Start Performance Standards.

          Classroom teachers have met higher education and training standards

          Program has a plan to implement a salary scale that is based on professional qualifications. This policy results in better qualified teachers and lower turnover rate.

          The Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines and/or Supporting Maine’s Infants and Toddlers-Guidelines for Learning and Development are being implemented in the classrooms.


“Funny Farm School is pleased to receive this award. It shows parents that we are serious about the quality of our program. What this means for families are more and better educated teachers working at our center, a com­mitment to making early learning an important part of our program and a higher degree of professionalism all around,” said Heidi Topchik the Program Administrator.

Achieving these standards is crucial for the future of Maine’s children as more parents join the workforce and more children are cared for outside the home. In Maine, 65 percent of children under the age of six have both parents in the workforce. At the same time, 90 percent of brain development occurs before the age of five.

Children who attend high quality early learning programs, particularly low income children, are more likely to stay in school, attend college, earn more money and be employed in high-skilled jobs later in life.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services implemented the Quality Rating System statewide in March 2008. The goals of the Quality Rating System are:

          To recognize early care and education programs that provide quality care

          To encourage providers to increase their level of quality

          To provide parents with identifiable standards of quality.

Funny Farm School Among First in Nation

Funny Farm School Earns National NAEYC Accreditation

Program Among First in Nation to Complete More Rigorous Accreditation Process


Cape Elizabeth, July 2008 - Funny Farm School located in Cape Elizabeth is one of the first early childhood programs to earn accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals.


“We’re proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC, and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards.” said Heidi Topchik, Program Administrator at the School.  “NAEYC Accreditation lets families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible.”  NAEYC accreditation along with a State of Maine Quality Rating Certificate will allow the parents at our school to receive a double tax credit towards childcare on their Maine State Income Tax. 


To earn NAEYC Accreditation in the new system, Funny Farm went through an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against the ten new NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 related Accreditation Criteria.  The program received NAEYC Accreditation after an on-site visit by NAEYC Assessors to ensure that the program meets each of the ten NAEYC program standards.  NAEYC-accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits during their accreditation, which lasts for five years.


In the 20 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education.  More than 11,000 programs, serving one million young children, are currently accredited by NAEYC - approximately 8 percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs.  “The new NAEYC Accreditation system raises the bar for preschools, child care centers and other early childhood programs,” said Mark Ginsberg, Ph.D., executive director of NAEYC.  “Funny Farm’s NAEYC Accreditation is a sign that they are a leader in a national effort to invest in high-quality early childhood education, and to help give all children a better start.”


The NAEYC Accreditation system has set voluntary professional standards for programs for young children since 1985.  As of September 2006, the Association’s revised program standards and criteria have introduced a new level of quality, accountability, and service for parents and children in child care programs.  The new standards reflect the latest research and best practices in early childhood education and development.  NAEYC is committed to utilizing the newest studies and analysis on positive child outcomes to ensure young children continue receiving the highest-quality care and education possible.


Funny Farm School has been owned and operated by Scott and Lisa Rockwell for the last 16 years.