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The Tennessee Child Care Report Card and Star-Quality Programs

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Background Information

In 2000 and 2001, Tennessee launched a broad program to improve child care. This program's goals are to give more information to parents and to improve the quality of child care in the state. This new program actually includes two programs, the Child Care Report Card Program and the Star-Quality Child Care Program.

The Child Care Report Card Program is required for all licensed and approved child care providers in Tennessee. During the process of renewing a license, the State evaluates a provider on several areas of quality. Family and Group Homes are evaluated on 5 areas and Child Care Centers on 7 areas. To learn more about this program, please read the Factsheet.

The Star-Quality Child Care Program, unlike the report card program, is voluntary. This program recognizes child care providers who meet a higher standard of quality. Once qualified for this program, providers can receive one, two, or three stars to place on their license. Each star shows that a provider meets increasingly higher standards. In other words, the more stars a program has, the better the quality of care it offers to children. [Read more about the Star-Quality Program.]

Both programs require a program assessment. This part of the licensing process is required for both Child Care Centers and for Family and Group Homes. An assessment (an on-site observation by a highly trained Assessor) evaluates many things. For example, it evaluates the interactions between the children and staff (to be sure that it is appropriate for the age of the children). It also examines the layout and use of space and rooms and looks at health and safety practices. It even makes sure that the program includes appropriate math, language, music, and art activities. For more information on assessments, see the All About Program Assessments page.

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About Report Cardslink to the DHS site for more information on report cards

When a child care program receives its yearly license from DHS, it will receive a report card showing how it rated in specific areas and overall. (See the DHS site for example report cards.) Providers must post the report card for parents and visitors to see.

Providers who participate in the Star-Quality Child Care Program get a Star Report Card. It is more detailed and more colorful than the regular one. The Star Report Card lists every area that applies to the provider's program and the rating it earned in each one. It also shows the overall star rating—1, 2, or 3 stars. This Star Report Card lets parents know that the provider qualified for and is participating in the Star-Quality Child Care Program.

For more information about report cards, you can read the Tennessee Evaluation and Report Card program fact sheet [PDF] and the Star-Quality program fact sheet [PDF].

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Program Updates

August 1, 2012, marked the beginning of program year 12 for the Tennessee Child Care Report Card and Star Quality Program. The start of a new program year is the desired time for changes and updates to the Additional Notes for Clarification to be made so that all providers will be assessed consistently across the state. Click here to read the most recently updated additional notes.

The website www.ParentsKnowKidsGrow.org has been established as a resource for parents, guardians, and others concerned about raising children, by providing resources and information about children’s safety, their well-being, and learning.  The website is growing every day and covers such topics as finding the best child care, creating a safe-sleep environment, and childhood development.  The site offers the latest research-based articles, videos and additional resources.    

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© 2011 University of Tennessee College of Social Work Office of Research and Public Service