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Learn More About PSAM Here...

Provider Self Assessment and Mentoring Services (PSAM) FAQs

New! Learn how PSAM is impacting the quality of care in Tennessee’s Early Childhood settings! (Exciting NEW Testimonials)

Provider Self-Assessment and Mentoring Services (PSAM) Frequently Asked Questions

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Provider Self-Assessment and Mentoring Services (PSAM) Frequently Asked Questions (Adobe .pdf 416KB)

This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Departments of Human Services; Health, Maternal and Child
Health Section; Education and Signal Centers, Inc.

  1. What is PSAM?
    PSAM stands for Provider Self-Assessment and Mentoring. This is a provider driven service that the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) offers with funding from the Department of Human Services and with the support of Assessment, Licensing, Project TOPSTAR, UT-SWORPS and TECTA.

  2. Who is eligible for PSAM Services?
    Every DHS licensed child care provider.

  3. How will providers be informed of PSAM Services?
    After a provider has received their licensing packet, a CCR&R specialist will be calling to talk about the availability of PSAM services.

    If a provider expresses interest in participating in PSAM, as part of a partnership effort, the CCR&R specialist will send an email to DHS licensing, DHS assessment, and UTSWORPS to notify each agency of a providerís desire to participate. In addition, an appointment will be made with the director or family child care provider and a CCR&R specialist to answer any questions and to arrange for the signing of a PSAM services provider agreement.

  4. What are the main components of PSAM services?
    • In-depth training on the Environment Rating Scales and the self-assessment process
    • Assistance in understanding the assessment results
    • Opportunities to meet with peers for support and team building
    • Training hours for Targeted Technical Assistance
    • Individualized help on-site to improve program quality
    • Purchasing Grants for participants who have at least one child enrolled in the child care certificate program and are in good standing with DHS

  5. When can a provider start PSAM?
    Any DHS licensed child care provider can begin PSAM Services who has received their licensing packet containing their assessment results.

    PSAM Services start when a provider agreement is signed by the provider and the CCR&R specialist.

  6. Describe the self assessment process:
    Center Self-Assessment for PSAM purposes involves the center director and the CCR&R specialist using the ITERS-R, ECERS-R, or SACERS to:
    • observe selected classroom(s)
    • score items independently (the CCR&R specialist will score all scale items; the director will score to the extent of their comfort level and/or level of understanding of the scale)
    • arrive at the appropriate score for each item together, based on the scale criteria

      NOTE: The center director may get approval (within the Provider Agreement process) to designate another person provided he/she has the authorization to implement any substantive program changes to impact overall quality based on the PSAM process.

      Family and Group home Self-Assessment for PSAM purposes involves a family or group child care provider and a CCR&R specialist using the FDCRS and additional documentation methods to:
      • Observe the program
      • Score items (The CCR&R specialist will score all scale items; the provider will score agreed upon items using additional documentation methods, based on the best method for each item.)
      • Arrive at the appropriate score for each item together, based on the scale criteria

  7. Additional Documentation Method Options:
    • Journaling
    • Video taping
    • Audio taping
    • FCC PSAM Observation/Documentation Self-Assessment Checklist
    • Peer observation
    • Parent feedback
    • Collection of forms indicating practice (schedule, menus, etc.)

  8. How long will it take for a provider to be ready to do a self- assessment?
    This process is provider-driven and depends on the experience and comfort level of the provider. However, the self-assessment should take place as close to mid-licensing year as possible.

  9. What other support is available to the provider while learning to self-assess?
    Support in the form of training, technical assistance, or mentoring may be available through Infant/Toddler Specialists, DHS licensing, TECTA, or TOPSTAR.

  10. If a provider initially says they do not want PSAM services can they change their mind and later start PSAM services?
    A provider can later change his or her mind and start PSAM services. However, the ability to get the most out of PSAM services, including doing a mid-licensing year assessment, will be compromised. In order to get the most out of PSAM services, providers should start PSAM services as soon as possible after receiving their licensing packet containing their Assessment Results Report.

  11. What kind of tasks will be completed during the first PSAM meetings?
    • A provider agreement will be discussed and signed
    • The programís Assessment Results Report will be reviewed
    • Program priorities will be set
    • A plan of action will be determined
    • A timeline will be established

  12. If an owner or director oversees more than one DHS licensed agency, can each agency still take part in PSAM services?
    Yes. If an owner or director oversees multiple sites, they would need to enter into a separate agreement for each site they desire to participate. The owner, director or an appropriate designee at each site, who has the ability to implement recommendations, will need to be available to work with the CCR&R Specialist to complete PSAM services.

  13. Are there any specialized trainings for a provider who is receiving PSAM services?
    Any of the trainings on the TN-CCPT calendar will be helpful. However, there are certain trainings that will highlight skills needed to foster program improvement. Topics of interest may include observation, self-assessment, scale knowledge, scoring, and PSAM Basics and Center-Based or Family Child Care Self-Assessment.

  14. How long does it take a provider to complete the PSAM services requirements?
    Completing all PSAM service components will typically require five (5) or more visits with the CCR&R specialist. The length of time and frequency of each visit will vary by provider and depend on a number of factors including the schedule of the CCR&R specialist and the schedule of each provider.

  15. How will providers that complete PSAM services be recognized?
    After completing the components of the PSAM provider agreement, the director or family child care provider will be recognized with a PSAM lapel pin, a certificate of completion, and recognition on the CCR&R website.

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To whom it may concern,

I feel the PSAM process has benefited our childcare center greatly. It helps me as Director to better understand the 3 Star process. I can in turn, better relate my knowledge to the staff on room arrangement and crucial elements the program is looking for. The grant associated with the PSAM process is such a great bonus for the children. It allows us to purchase toys/equipment in order to bring our center up to a higher learning level.

Our PSAM leader, Loretta Hayes, is very easy to work with. If there is an area that needs adjusting in order to rate a better score, she is very helpful in making us aware of this. She is not judgmental, but helpful.

All of these things combined make our daycare one I can be proud of. These things combined also, allow the children in our center a great start in their early lives!

Rhonda Mellons, Director
Allandale's Early Learning Center
905 University Blvd
Kingsport, TN 37660



You did a wonderful job helping me decide the best way to spend our PSAM money. Thank you so much!! I just wish it hadn't taken so long, they just now sent out my order the day before yesterday.

Karen Hinson, Director
Johnson City Kidz Clubhouse
408 West Market Street
Johnson City, TN 37601



I just wanted to let you know how much Susan L. and I appreciate yours and Kerri's time training us in the PSAM program. I feel that in the last few months we have both learned so much about the ITERS and ways we can improve our center as a whole and, in effect, our star rating scores. We are so grateful for the grant money which will provide our classrooms with much needed new materials, and my staff and I would like to say "thank you" for all the PSAM program has done for us. I would recommend the PSAM program to any director because not only will it provide centers with useful new equipment and materials but it will most importantly provide much needed training that can be shared with all staff members.

Thanks again for all of your help. It was a great experience and I look forward to doing it again next year!

Susan Phillips
Program Coordinator
Sonshine Child Development Center


To whom it may concern,

We just wanted to say thank you sooooo much for the opportunity to participate in the PSAM project. We have learned so much, and it will help us in our endeavor to have a quality childcare center. We really enjoyed learning the part where we could take the ITERS book and actually learn to score our rooms and the teachers we have placed in these rooms. Loretta Hayes was a wonderful instructor and helped us understand the rating scale, so this could be possible. We feel this was an extra plus in helping us maintain our 3 Star rating. It gave us a 'bird's eye view' in to what the assessors are really looking at when they rate our center. It gave us the ability to help prepare those classrooms and teachers to provide quality childcare.

The grant was an added bonus! Thank you soooo much for the materials we were able to purchase using the grant money. These materials are already being enjoyed by the children. As we were preparing to put the new things out for the children, one little boy was so excited. He told his mother all about the new boxes we got, and kept going to them to see what was in them. He had to go to spend time at his Dad's and kept calling and asking her each day if the new things were out. He wanted to come home already, so he could come and play with them. One little girl told her mommy that it was Christmas. They are enjoying them immensely. This grant made it possible for us to use our assessment and provide things we needed to help possibly raise our score for next year.

If PSAM is offered again, I hope to be able to repeat the process for the Pre-K area of our center. Again, this was greatly appreciated.

Rhonda Mellons, Director
Gina Estep, Assistant Director
Allandale's Early Learning Center, Kingsport, TN


To whom it may concern,

I want to thank Loretta Hayes for all of the hard work she put into the PSAM training. The training is very helpful and I have a clear understanding of all of the materials provided. I as well as all of the children are very excited and appreciative of the new equipment provided by the PSAM grant.

Loretta was instrumental in helping make the best choices for the materials. Thanks again for everything!

Cindy Bacon
Parkway Preschool

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