Quality Childcare Gives Kids a Leg-Up in Life

The moment Tiffany Cross drops off her one-year-old daughter, Leah, at Tiny Tots Learning Center on Milwaukee’s north side, she feels confident her child is in the right place.

“It’s a comfort knowing she’s in a safe environment and also learning at the same time,” Tiffany said.

Joseph Clayton, the Director of Tiny Tots Learning Center, and his staff credit their success to the Milwaukee Succeeds Kindergarten Readiness Program, a partnership with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County which is designed to improve kindergarten readiness.  Joseph and his team leveraged this partnership to learn and grow together, and to become better child care providers to the kids who attend the center.


Over the last two years, the Milwaukee Succeeds partnership has helped nearly half of the 12 childcare centers enrolled in the pilot program improve their YoungStar rating by assisting staff in obtaining post-secondary education. YoungStar is the state’s child care quality rating and improvement system.

“The goal of the project is to help daycare centers in Milwaukee’s low income neighborhoods improve their YoungStar ratings so that they can provide the best child care possible to children in the city,” said Tim Coughlin, who manages the Kindergarten Readiness Partnership between United Way and Milwaukee Succeeds.  

After participating in the pilot project, Tiny Tots Learning Center raised their two-star rating to three stars.

Over the next five years, the pilot project will continue working to create opportunities for childcare centers across Milwaukee to improve the quality of their services.  By enabling hundreds of children to participate in high quality early childhood education, they will enter kindergarten better prepared and primed for the next phase of their academic achievement.

As for Tiffany, she feels lucky to have Leah in a center that will help her daughter grow long after she leaves Tiny Tots. “My daughter’s speech has become clearer, she’s putting words into sentences, and she’s friendlier; waving and saying hi to strangers,” said Tiffany. “She really makes me proud.”