child's drawing of stars

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Background info
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Financial rewards
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The Tennessee Star-Quality Child Care Program

background | participating | qualifying | getting help to earn more stars | financial rewards


Background Information

In 2000 and 2001, Tennessee launched a broad program to improve child care and to give parents more information about the quality of care their children receive. The Star-Quality program is part of this broad program. Unlike the Child Care Report Card Program (read more here), the Star-Quality Child Care Program is voluntary.

Star-Quality recognizes child care providers who meet a higher standard of quality. Once qualified for this program, a provider can receive one, two, or three stars to place on its license and display in its center or home. Each star shows that the provider meets increasingly higher standards. In other words, the more stars a program has, the better the quality of care it offers to children.

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How to Participate

During the licensing renewal process, your Program Evaluator determines whether you qualify for the Star-Quality program. Participation is voluntary. If you qualify, your Program Evaluator will automatically enroll you in the program.  No further evaluation or on-site visits will be done. Your existing evaluation results will be used to calculate the number of stars you get.

Once you are enrolled, you will receive a Star-Quality Report Card. It will have your overall rating printed on it. It will also show how many stars you earned in each of the 5 or 7 areas of evaluation and how many stars you earned overall. In addition to the Star Report Card, you will receive a sticker for your license and a sticker for your door or window. These stickers show the public how many stars you have earned.

For more information about how you can qualify, please read the Fact Sheet on the Star-Quality Child Care Program [PDF]. If you still have other questions, contact your local licensing office.

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Qualifying for the Star-Quality Program

Your Program Evaluator  determines whether you can participate in this program as part of your regular licensing evaluation. Your Program Evauator determines:

  1. A rating for each of the areas on which you were evaluated.
  2. An overall rating—1, 2, or 3—for your child care program.

If the evaluation shows that your child care program meets all of the following criteria, then you are eligible for the Star-Quality Program:

  • You received at least a 1 in Program Assessment. [AND]
  • You received an overall rating of at least a 1.

The overall rating is calculated by using this formula:

  • Add up all the component ratings (the rating in each of the 5 or 7 areas of evaluation).
  • Add 2 points to this total if you are accredited by a DHS-recognized accrediting agency.
  • Divide the total by 7 (if you are a child care center) or 5 (if you are a family or group home).
  • The result is your overall rating.

If your child care program is eligible for the Star-Quality program, your new Annual License package will include the Star-Quality Report with your ratings on it.   If your program is not eligible this year, you can get help making improvements to your program for next year.

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Getting Help to Earn More Stars

If you did not qualify for the Star-Quality program this year or want to earn more stars next year, you can get help. TDHS offers grants, technical assistance, and training to help child care providers achieve higher quality and more stars. Please see the How to Learn More page for links to information about these resources.

For other information that can help you earn more stars, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral Center directly.

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Financial Rewards of the Star-Quality Program

More stars show the public your quality of care. They can also mean a higher reimbursement rate for any children you care for who are in the Child Care Certificate program. Even one star will raise your reimbursement rate, to 5% above the base. The more stars you get, the better your reimbursement rate for your children who are in the Certificate program. These financial rewards give you a good reason to participate in the Star-Quality program. But more importantly, they also give you a reason to work to continually improve your program. In the end, parents, providers, and the state all have the same goal: safe, healthy children who are better prepared for school and life.

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