Keystone STARS (Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources) provides families with a tool to gauge the quality of early learning programs. The STARS program supports early learing programs in the commitment to continuous quality improvement. Programs that participate in Keystone STARS care about providing quality early learning to your child. As programs move up the STARS ladder, they are providing even higher quality experiences, so your child benefits even more from the program. Early learning programs can earn STAR 1 to a STAR 4 level. At each level, programs have to meet certain research-based quality standards that measure four areas that make a difference in the quality of care your child receives:
As a program moves from STAR 1 to STAR 4, the requirements in these areas increase.
Q: Why is Keystone STARS important to your child?
A: Your child’s Early Education is critical to his/her development and future success in school and life. Keystone STARS sets requirements for early childhood educators to promote the best learning environment and safest setting possible for your child. Children who attend quality early learning programs:
Q: What are the requirements set by Keystone STARS?
A: Star levels are based on quality standards in four key areas:
Q: How does Keystone STARS rate a program?
A: Programs complete a self-study evaluation based on STARS standards to apply for a STAR level. Keystone STARS evaluators will then confirm their STAR level. Programs that are earning a STAR 3 or STAR 4 also receive an independent Environmental Ratings Scale.
Q: What is the difference between a STAR 1 and higher STAR ratings?
A: Programs are rated using the four quality areas, but the requirements increase in each area for each STAR level. Please speak with your local Child Care Information Services (CCIS) for details of STAR level requirements. Learn more about each STAR level.
Q: The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) certifies programs. Isn’t that good enough?
A: A certified center does meet Pennsylvania’s minimum requirements for safety. However, certification does not address Early Education. A child's first years are crucial to their lifelong learning, and the quality of their learning experiences will affect their readiness for school. Keystone STARS programs combine these safety requirements with Early Education standards to give children a safe and an educational environment.
Q: Does it cost more to enroll my child in a Keystone STARS program?
A: Providers enroll voluntarily in the Keystone STARS program and there are no charges for the provider to enroll. Costs to parents are set only by the provider themselves. Keystone STARS provides many child care providers with targeted financial assistance to help them continue to improve quality so they do not have to pass the cost on to families.
Q: What will my child get out of being enrolled in a Keystone STARS program?
A: Many things! Individual attention, daily learning activities, a safe, friendly, and respectful environment, feeling good about themselves, a well educated staff, parent involvement, and more.
Q: What do parents get out of enrolling their children in a Keystone STARS program?
A: Knowing that your child is safe and respected, that your child is learning something new every day, and the security of knowing what to expect from your provider in certain situations. Most of all, giving your child the best opportunity to succeed today and in the future