STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) Overview for Parents
STep Ahead Recognition Program STARS (STep Ahead Recognition System) is Vermont’s quality recognition system for child care, preschool, and afterschool programs. Programs that participate in STARS are stepping ahead – going above and beyond state regulations to provide professional services that meet the needs of children and families.
How Does it Work?
Programs may apply for recognition in 5 areas:
- Regulatory history;
- Staff qualifications;
- Families & communities;
- Program practices; and
One-star programs may be just starting on a path to improvement or may be stronger in one area.
Two-star programs may have made some progress in many areas or more progress in one or two areas.
Three-star programs have either made substantial progress in two or three areas or some improvements in all five.
Four-star programs have documented quality in all five areas. Many are also nationally accredited.
Five-star programs are outstanding in all five areas. Many are also nationally accredited.
What it Means to Parents
You can look to STARS as one indicator of quality when choosing child care. The more stars a program has, the more it is involved in a wide range of practices that support children, families, and professionals. If you use a provider that is accredited or has 3, 4, or 5 stars AND you meet the income guidelines, you may qualify for a Vermont low income child and dependent care tax credit on your state income tax. You may pay less for child care if you receive child care financial assistance AND use a program that has stars. This is because the Child Development Division pays a higher rate to programs with stars. Note: Financial assistance payments are made directly to providers.
How does STARS benefit me as a parent?
- STARS can help you find a quality program for your child.
- You may pay less for child care if you receive child care financial assistance AND use a program that has stars. This is because the Child Development Division pays a higher rate to programs with stars. Note: Financial assistance payments are made directly to providers.
- You may qualify for a tax credit on your Vermont state income tax if you meet income guidelines AND use a program that has 3, 4, or 5 stars.
For more information on STARS, please call the Child Development Division at 1-800-649-2642 or visit their website for information on the STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS).
What it Means To Providers
You can look to STARS as an opportunity to look at your program objectively and use child care quality indicators to identify strengths and areas for improvement. The primary incentive for participating in STARS is local and statewide recognition of your program’s achievements. Other incentives include community awards and financial rewards (e.g., higher reimbursement on the child care financial assistance fee scale).
STARS Benefits for Providers
- Bonus payments based on the number of stars earned.
- Help promoting their participation in STARS (e.g., listing on the STARS website, supply of STARS brochures, and a customized press release).
- The opportunity to apply for grants open only to programs that have stars or national accreditation.
- A higher reimbursement rate from the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (5% to 40% above base rate) based on the number of stars earned.
- Discount on purchases at some companies.
The Child Development Division contracts with coordinators to administer STARS and provide technical assistance to applicants. If you have any questions about STARS or the application process, contact the STARS coordinators at (802) 388-2853 or STARS@mjccvt.org. Or you may call the Child Development Division at 1-800-649-2642 and visit the website STep Ahead Recognition System.