Early Childhood Education Program Resources by State

As a non-profit organization, our mission is to encourage and recognize as many high-quality programs as possible. With this mission as a guide, we have kept our Accreditation fees highly competitive and with your financial success in mind. Additionally, many states offer partial, if not full accreditation fee support. Contact your local licensing agency or QRIS office today to see what benefits your state may offer.

Click On Your State Below for State Resources


QRIS: Alabama Quality STARS

  • A designated STAR rating of an early care and education center may qualify the center for certain incentives, as determined by the Alabama Department of Human Resources

  • Is a “building block” system. Centers must meet all requirements at a STAR level before moving to the next level. Because Minimum Standards licensing requirements are the foundation on which Alabama Quality STARS is built, participating centers must be licensed. Centers that cannot be licensed by DHR (e.g., military, public school, Alabama Community College System and university, Tribal, etc.) are also eligible for participation and must be evaluated to determine the appropriate STAR rating.



QRIS: Learn & Grow

  • A voluntary system that provides supports and resources for programs to actively participate in continuous quality improvement activities. Supports include:

    • Coaching, technical assistance, and training

    • Quality Recognition Awards (financial support)

    • Marketing and communication materials

  • The Alaska System for Early Education Development (SEED) is Alaska's early childhood and school-age professional development system.

    • Financial Support Available for SEED Registry Members



QRIS: Quality First

  • Accreditation does not move a program higher on the rating scale, but does accelerate the assessment process. NECPA accreditation is recognized.

  • Uses three assessment tools:

    • Environment Rating Scales (ERS)

    • Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)

    • Points Scale Assessment

  • Programs that are accredited by a recognized organization begin their assessment process with the CLASS assessment, bypassing the ERS.

  • If the program meets the threshold scores on the CLASS, they continue on to the Points Scale Assessment. If they do not meet the threshold scores, they go back and are assessed with the ERS tool(s).

  • “Quality is an extremely important factor for families in choosing a child care setting for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Participation in Quality First is a clear sign to families in your community that you are committed to improving the quality of your program to best serve the children in your care. Your program will be provided with a marketing toolkit, including signs and website graphics, to promote your participation in Quality First.”

  • There are two different types of financial incentives offered to Quality First Participants

    • Licensing fee assistance – for Quality First providers licensed by the Department of Health Services (DHS)

    • Quality First Incentives – for Quality First providers to support improvement efforts.

  • Arizona Self-Study Project

    • The Arizona Self-Study Project (ASSP) is an exciting statewide project for early care and education programs committed to improving the quality of care for Arizona's children. ASSP assists programs to integrate quality developmentally appropriate practices in a model that meets the needs of all children.



QRIS: Better Beginnings

  • Goals:

    • To help the families of Arkansas understand that providers achieving this certification consistently provided a care environment above minimum licensing requirements.

    • To encourage and achieve better life long outcomes for children by helping to assure their time in child care and early childhood education is enriching and meaningful.

  • Designation of certified status for any child care facility will qualify taxpayers for specific exemptions and credits, per the Better Beginnings Rule Book



CA–QRIS Consortium

  • California has a collective of county and regional QRISs

    • Assesses program quality comparably across provider types (publicly and privately funded, centers and family child care homes) throughout the state;

    • Aligns program standards with early learning and practitioner standards;

    • Supports continuous quality improvement for participating programs and their staff;

    • Provides families with information about program quality to assist them in making informed choices

  • If you are a licensed family child care home provider or a child care center in a county that is operating a QRIS, you can contact the lead agency for information on participation or the application process. Priority I agencies and their mentees are the current lead agencies.

  • Rating Elements by Points

    • 5 POINTS: Independent ERS assessment. All subscales completed and averaged to meet overall score of 5.5 OR Current National Accreditation approved by the California Department of Education



QRIS: Colorado Shines

  • Honors those programs that choose accreditation for meeting their quality goals.

  • NECPA accreditation is recognized at a high quality Level 3.

  • QRIS is embedded in the Colorado’s licensing system and all ratings are published on the public website for the public to search (and in particular for parents seeking child care options to search).

  • Programs who participate in NECPA are required to register in the state QRIS portal to receive public recognition. This registration also allows programs the option to personalize their public snapshot, thus providing no cost ways to market their program.

  • All counties within the state offer some level of tiered reimbursement for high quality programs who serve children eligible for child care subsidy funds.

  • Quality funds are allocated based on program type (center/home), number of classrooms, and program quality level. These stipends support the provision of coaching to include in-person, intensive support offered by subject matter experts to enhance particular aspects of quality; non-consumable materials for the child care learning environment; or to compensate for professional development (qualifying Early Childhood Education college coursework, conferences or trainings).



QRIS Workgroup (Pilot)

  • The Early Childhood Cabinet, originally created in 2005 as the Early Childhood Education Cabinet, was renamed the Early Childhood Cabinet in the 2014 legislative session to reflect the cabinet's renewed interest in all areas that impact young children and their families.

  • CT Early Childhood Cabinet Meeting Minutes April 27, 2017:

    • Thrive! will be piloted throughout the coming year with early adopters in 2018, voluntary statewide participation beginning in 2019, and required for state-funded programs in 2020. Family engagement will roll out in 2021 and Leadership in 2022. A set of forums statewide will be held this spring to share the Thrive! recognition rubric and pilot plans and receive feedback

    • The Thrive! recognition rubric will be star-based with five categories scored separately and combined for an overall score. The categories rated will be Health and Safety, Learning and Environment, Workforce, and in the future Family Engagement, and Leadership.



QRIS: Delaware Stars for Early Success

  • The goal of Delaware Stars is to invest in participating programs to increase access to high quality care for all of Delaware’s children, especially those from low-income families.

  • The standards are based on a framework that supports best and developmentally appropriate practices in the classroom and across a child care program in four areas: Learning Environment and Curriculum, Family and Community Partnerships, Management and Administration, and Professional Development and Qualifications.



Gold Seal Quality Care

  • Florida Legislature established the Gold Seal Quality Care program to acknowledge child care facilities and family day care homes that are accredited by recognized agencies and whose standards reflect quality in the level of care and supervision provided to children. NECPA accreditation is recognized.

  • Gold Seal accrediting agencies are approved for a period of 5 years. It is the responsibility of the accrediting agencies to update the Office of Child Care Regulation on a quarterly basis as to their accredited child care providers. This includes, but is not limited to: new providers, renewed providers, terminated providers, and providers on provisional accreditation.

  • Coalitions

    • 14 local early learning coalitions operate or are piloting voluntary QRIS programs. There are 30 local coalitions, each operating under a plan approved by the Office of Early Learning representing all of Florida’s 67 counties.

    • While OEL governs day-to-day operations of statewide early learning programs and administers federal and state child care funds, across the state 30 regional early learning coalitions and the Redlands Christian Migrant Association are responsible for delivering local services.



QRIS: Quality Rated

  • Quality Rated is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school‐age care and education programs. Similar to rating systems for other service related industries, Quality Rated assigns a quality rating to early and school‐age care and education programs that meet a set of defined program standards.

  • Program can earn bonus points accreditation. NECPA accreditation is recognized – 1 additional point

  • Once programs receive a rating, they may select a Bonus Package

    • Child Care Learning Center (CCLC) with Capacity of 19 or more

    • Child Care Learning Center (CCLC) with Capacity of 18 or less

    • Family Child Care Learning Home (FCCLH)

    • Stand-alone School-Age Program


r an additional fee ($300.00) and shorten the review time to 2 weeks from the date the NECPA Office has both the visit materials and the expedited request. To download the NECPA Expedited National Accreditation Council (NAC) Result Request Form, please click HERE.


Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Pilot

  • QRIS is Hawai‘i’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system for center-based and home-based (family child care) early childhood care and education programs licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

  • Assesses and provides programs with a Quality Assessment Report that includes a Rating Level to help identify their strengths (what is working well), and areas for improvement (what could be strengthened) in their efforts toward continuous quality improvement

    • Rating Level (1-5) is based on a program’s performance on specified assessment measures: assessment scores, staff qualifications, and required supporting evidence

    • NECPA accreditation is recognized – Level 5 and Tiered rate/rate add-on

  • Supports programs with resources to help with their continuous quality improvement efforts. These resources include:

    • coaching —provided by highly skilled and knowledgeable early childhood professionals to help programs identify and implement quality improvement goals and concrete actions to bring about desired changes

    • financial supports—provided by public and private funders to allow programs to move toward achieving their quality improvement goals. There are two forms of financial supports:

      • Quality Award—an award made based on a program’s Rating Level, size of program and number of children receiving subsidies for child care, to be used to support quality improvement efforts

      • Quality Improvement Grant—supplemental funds for which a program can apply to support quality improvement efforts




  • IdahoSTARS is a voluntary program that provides training in child development, education, health, and safety and assessment of child care facilities based on national quality standards. NECPA accreditation is recognized – Level 5 and Tiered rate/rate add-on.

    • Helps build revenue for child care businesses by offering incentives and grant opportunities to participating early care and education providers

    • Encourages business success by offering professional development and resources for child care providers

    • Ensures child care providers have access to current standards and resources to offer the best care possible

    • Serve as the leading expert and referral source for quality early care and education in Idaho



QRIS: ExceleRate Illinois

  • ExceleRate Illinois recognizes early learning providers for their ongoing efforts to improve the quality of their care by awarding Circle of Quality designations:

    • The Licensed Circle of Quality tells you that the program meets state licensing standards for quality. It is the foundation for quality.

    • The Bronze Circle of Quality recognizes the qualifications of program staff.It tells you that the program has completed ExceleRate Illinois trainings, have met qualifications and are engaged in continuous quality improvement.

    • The Silver Circle of Quality recognizes that the program has met quality goals.Silver Circle programs meet or go beyond quality standards in three areas: learning environment and teaching quality; administrative standards; and training & education. Programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement.

    • The Gold Circle of Quality recognizes programs that meet or go beyond the highest quality goals. Gold Circle programs have met the highest quality standards in three areas:learning environment and teaching quality; administrative standards; and training & education. Programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement.

  • NECPA accreditation is recognized – Gold and Silver approval

  • Benefits include financial incentives, tools and resources for promotion, and quality add-on to the CCAP reimbursement rate




  • Gives families an easy to recognize tool for selecting a child care program. Families can look for the Paths to QUALITY™ logo to determine what level their provider has achieved. Each level builds on the foundation of the previous one, resulting in significant quality improvements at each stage and in national accreditation at the highest level. The system validates child care programs for ongoing efforts to achieve higher standards of quality and provides incentives and awards for success. The four levels address:

    • Level One: Health and safety needs of children met.

    • Level Two: Environment supports children’s learning.

    • Level Three: Planned curriculum guides child development and school readiness.

    • Level Four: National accreditation (the highest indicator of quality) is achieved.

  • NECPA accreditation is recognized – Level 4 approval



QRIS: Quality Rating System

  • Iowa's Quality Rating System (QRS) is a voluntary child care rating system for DHS Licensed Centers, DHS Licensed Preschools, Department of Education programs and Child Development Homes. QRS was developed to raise the quality of child care in Iowa, raise the number of children in high-quality child care settings and to educate parents about quality in child care.

  • QRS uses a rating system geared toward increasing quality. Participating providers are rated with 1 to 5 stars, depending on how many improvement steps they are awarded.

  • NECPA accreditation is recognized – Maximum of 18 points



QRIS: Links to Quality

  • DCF is planning to pilot Links to Quality with a small group of 30-40 providers. The pilot will last for a period of 2 years.

  • A QRIS is an approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early care settings. In Kansas, our QRIS is now Links to Quality. Our system will give Kansas child care providers goals to improve quality of their practice and recognize programs that demonstrate high marks of quality.It will be a system where programs can choose to participate. Programs will receive Quality recognition based on a set of Quality Indicators in three topic areas:

    • Program Leadership

    • Family Partnerships

    • Learning and Development




  • The STARS for KIDS NOW program is Kentucky's voluntary quality rating improvement system for Licensed Type I, Type II and Certified Family Child Care Homes. Programs are rated using a one- to four-STAR level system.

  • The STARS for KIDS NOW program is part of the KIDS NOW Initiative (Kentucky Invests in Developing Success NOW!) and is administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

  • NECPA accreditation is recognized within Level 4 Quality Rating Certificate Requirements

  • The Initial Achievement Award is awarded the first time the center/provider achieves a STARS level in accordance with the awards chart. The center/provider will be paid for each level and including the STARS level achieved initially

  • The Annual Achievement Award is for a center/provider maintaining a STARS Level 3 or 4. Eligibility for this award is determined during the anniversary month of the provider’s STARS rating.

  • The Annual Enhancement Award is for Level 4 Type I centers who offer health insurance at the time of rating or begin to offer this benefit to their employees. The center must pay at least 50% of the cost of a single plan. Level 4 Type II centers and Certified providers are eligible for the annual enhancement award if their environment rating scale score is an average above 5.5.

  • Quality Incentive Awards are calculated annually for STARS Levels 2, 3, and 4 centers/providers serving CCAP children.



QRIS: Quality Start

  • Quality Start is a voluntary program for licensed child care centers, designed to recognize, support and increase the quality of child care throughout Louisiana. Participating centers can earn up to five stars. Quality Start also offers training and incentives to child care providers to help increase their rating. Important new quarterly bonuses and tax credits are also available to parents who choose a Quality Start center.

    • 1 STAR – The one star rating indicates that the center has a license in good standing and no outstanding deficiencies.

    • 2 STARS – The two star rating indicates that the center staff has received more specialized training and the center has completed a self-assessment plan.

    • 3–5 STARS – The three to five star rating indicates the center provides quality child care based on staff qualifications and the Environment Rating Scales (ERS).

  • Top five incentives for joining Quality Start:

    • The SRTC Tax Credits

    • Louisiana Pathways Scholarships

    • CCR&R Technical Assistance

    • Child Care Mental Health Consultations

    • CCAP Bonuses



QRIS: Quality for ME

  • A four-step program designed to increase awareness of the basic standards of early care and education, to recognize and support providers who are providing care above and beyond those standards, and to educate the community of the benefits of higher quality care.Quality for ME has three goals.

    • To recognize child care programs that provide quality care

    • To encourage providers to increase their level of quality

    • To provide parents with identifiable standards of quality




  • Any licensed or registered center-based program, Head Start, family child care professional, public prekindergarten or school-age program that is open and operating is eligible to participate in Maryland EXCELS.

  • Programs wishing to participate should complete a two-step process of registering and applying.

  • NECPA accreditation is recognized – Accreditation fees are covered for programs that apply for the state Accreditation Support Fund – ENROLL HERE – https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeSiGTAJtwym77c3aS2vJv2Hz3kQP4lkLcnXvSfDSKmO9FNfw/viewform 

  • Not only does participating with Maryland EXCELS benefit your program and the families you serve, but it offers easy-to-use professional development resources to guide you through the process of increasing your Maryland EXCELS rating level and to give you ideas and insight on how to continue to improve the quality of your program.



QRIS:Massachusetts QRIS

  • The Massachusetts QRIS Standards were developed for all programs and educators serving children and youth across the Commonwealth's mixed delivery system. The Massachusetts' Licensing Regulations serve as a solid foundation, for a set of well-developed QRIS Standards, that are based on child development, early education and after school program quality research. To address the unique characteristics of quality found in different types of programs, the QRIS Standards have been customized for Center Based / School Based programs, Family Child Care, and After School Programs / Out of School Time programs.

  • The QRIS Standards are presently expressed in terms of Levels, which correspond to a QRIS rating. The levels are organized in a series of blocks that outline the indicators for quality within each category. Thus, programs must demonstrate that they can meet all of the criteria in all of the categories in Level 1 to obtain a Level 1 rating, before they can qualify for Level 2 rating, and so on up the levels. Currently there are four QRIS levels, EEC plans to develop a fifth level that links high quality education and care with positive developmental and educational outcomes for children and youth.



QRIS: Great Start to Quality

  • Great Start to Quality offers child care providers several resources such as orientation, professional development, and other benefits.

  • Great Start to Quality is Michigan's quality rating and improvement system that supports programs and providers in their efforts to provide high-quality care while helping families find and choose quality programs that meet their children's needs. Great Start to Quality helps you get the tools and child care provider resources you need to succeed.

  • Participating in Great Start to Quality provides you with the opportunity to apply for incentives, grants and additional bonuses to help you obtain necessary resources to provide the best care possible.

  • These incentives are made possible through Michigan's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. The goal of the grant is to increase the number of child care providers who are focusing on quality care and participating in Great Start to Quality.



QRIS: Parent Aware

  • Based on research, Star Ratings help families identify programs using the practices that best prepare children for kindergarten.

  • Programs participating in the Full-Rating Pathway have access to incredible benefits that can support their work with the children and their families.

  • Quality Improvement Supports are available to licensed child care programs pursuing a Parent Aware Rating through the Full-Rating Pathway. These dollars can be spent on training, curricula, assessment tools, toys, equipment, technology – like a computer or printer – or other materials tied to the program’s professional development goals. There are two ways to receive Quality Improvement Supports:

    • Building Quality. Participating programs can receive up to $1,000 after receiving 20 hours of coaching over a six-month period.

    • Full-Rating. Programs that earn a One-, Two-, or Three-Star Rating can receive up to $2,500 after receiving a Rating.

  • Licensed accredited family child care providers and licensed accredited child care centers can take the Accelerated Pathway to Rating (APR). With a current accreditation, these programs follow a streamlined process to earn a Four-Star Parent Aware Rating. The requirements of child care accreditation match or exceed the requirements of the Full-Rating Pathway.

    • NECPA accreditation is recognized



QRIS: State Early Childhood Advisory Council of Mississippi

  • SECAC seeks to support early childhood professionals in their role as a source of knowledge and support for Mississippi families.

  • MDHS and the State Early Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC) have released a joint statement on the future of early childhood in Mississippi, including the future of programs funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund. A Family-Based Unified and Integrated Early Childhood System outlines an early childhood system underpinned by common case management, a collaborative referral process, and an integrated data system unlike any other in the country. Implementation of Mississippi’s early childhood system is a collaborative effort of all state agencies, the office of Governor Bryant, early care and education providers, and the SECAC.



QRIS: Missouri Early Learning Standards (Pilot)

  • SB 638 Modifies several provisions relating to elementary and secondary education


      • This act repeals the prohibition of a quality rating system for early childhood education. (Section 161.216)

      • This act also establishes an early learning quality assurance report three year pilot program in collaboration with the Missouri Head Start Collaboration Office and the Departments of Health and Senior Services, Mental Health, and Social Services. The program is voluntary for any licensed, license-exempt, or certified early learning providers that are center-based or home based and providing services for children from any age up to kindergarten.

      • The early learning quality assurance report may include, but is not limited to, information regarding staff qualifications, instructional quality, professional development, health and safety standards, parent engagement, and community engagement. (Section 161.217)

  • The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education along with a broad based group of individuals, whose backgrounds are representative of the early childhood community in Missouri, developed a set of standards of what most children should know and be able to do by the time they enter kindergarten. The standards are intended to be used in a variety of early childhood settings by a variety of people: parents, parent educators, child care providers, Head Start and public/private school teachers, etc. They are consistent with current research and recommendations from other state and national initiatives.



QRIS: Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program

  • The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program is a voluntary quality rating and improvement system that aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and early childhood professionals. The Early Childhood Services Bureau has enjoyed watching the program grow and develop with the input from the various stakeholders, and has listened carefully to early childhood professionals, parents, and national experts to provide a strong program, desired by many.

  • STARS incentives are available to programs in two forms:

    • quarterly quality improvement awards

    • tiered reimbursement percent increases (above standard state reimbursement rates) for those facilities choosing to serve Best Beginnings Scholarship families.



QRIS: Step Up to Quality

  • Programs enrolled in Step Up to Quality have access to coaching and resources that help them on their path to higher quality. These resources enable any provider or educator –– big or small –– to take quality to the next level.

  • Step Up to Quality programs go beyond what is required because they strive to do better for their children’s and families’ futures.

  • Your Step Up to Quality coach can provide resources and information to help you access additional support and funding via Step Up to Quality partners.

    • Quality Grants

      • A limited number of quality grants are available to assist child care programs working to improve the quality of care through Step Up to Quality. Grants are available through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Children and Families.

    • T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Nebraska® Scholarships

      • A limited number of T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) Early Childhood Nebraska® scholarships are available through the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children. Scholarships assist professionals working toward an associate or bachelor’s degree or a certificate or diploma.

    • Child Development Associate

      • Limited funds are available to assist early childhood professionals who want to apply for a Child Development Associate (CDA), a nationally recognized credential for early childhood professionals. Funds help pay the initial assessment or renewal fees and are made available through the Nebraska Department of Education, Office of Early Childhood.

    • Program Accreditation

      • Limited funds are available to help programs pay part of the costs for recognized national accreditation. Financial assistance comes from the Nebraska Department of Education, Office of Early Childhood.

  • Accredited programs are eligible to enter Step Up to Quality at a Step 3 rating. These programs must complete all Step 1 requirements.

    • NECPA accreditation is recognized



QRIS: Nevada Silver State Stars

  • The Nevada Department of Education, through the Office of Early Learning and Development have implemented the Nevada Star Quality Initiative, Nevada Silver State Stars, the state's Quality Rating and Improvement System. A Quality Rating and Improvement System is a method to assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early childhood programs. The Silver State Stars assigns a rating, from 1 to 5 stars, to each site, to assist parents in finding a quality care provider for their child.

  • Benefits of becoming a Star program

    • Provides programs with a road-map, access to support, and resources to insure program improvement

    • Recognizes programs for their strengths while helping them improve where needed.

    • Provides financial incentives to programs who meet higher standards of quality

    • Integral to a quality rating and improvement system is a comprehensive and coordinated development system which: benefits professionals in all setting and responds to the needs of professionals at all levels, from entry- level assistants to multi-site administrators.

  • 5- star programs must be nationally accredited thus they have met the majority of additional quality indicators – NECPA accreditation is recognized


New Hampshire

QRIS: Licensed Plus

  • Licensed Plus is a quality rating system that recognizes NH child care programs for efforts to improve the quality of care for young children and rewards programs that strive to improve their practices and staff qualifications. It also allows families to identify programs with higher quality. Levels build from a foundation of minimum standards for licensing to full national accreditation.

  • Benefits Of Becoming A Licensed Plus Provider

    • Parents can find out about Licensed Plus programs in their communities. They can also contact their Child Care Resource and Referral program;

    • Licensed Plus providers will get a certificate and a logo to display;

    • Licensed Plus is the first of what may be additional steps to national accreditation; and

    • NH Department of Health and Human Services promotes the Licensed Plus Program. This is done via the media, educational opportunities and other available resources.


New Jersey

QRIS: Grow NJ Kids

  • Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey’s Quality Rating Improvement System, is New Jersey’s program to raise the quality of child care and early learning across the state.

  • Designed to assess child care and early learning programs, provide training and incentives to improve them, and communicate their level of quality to the public.

  • Any program regulated by the State of New Jersey will be eligible to participate, including:

    • Child Care Centers

    • Family Child Care Programs

    • School District Preschool Programs

    • Preschools

    • Head Start Programs


New Mexico

QRIS: FOCUS on Young Children's Learning / Look For The STARS

  • “FOCUS on Young Children's Learning" is New Mexico's third generation Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS). Developed by the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), the goal of FOCUS is to foster program leadership, cultivate teacher quality, and support positive outcomes for all children.

  • Similar to AIM HIGH, FOCUS is voluntary. Licensed family child care homes, child care centers, and school-age programs may apply. Programs must meet 2-STAR criteria to participate.

  • Look For The STARS

    • In order to achieve a higher STAR Level License, a facility must meet all of the STAR Essential Elements for the applied-for level. The program must continue to maintain basic licensing requirements.

    • A program must apply to Child Care Licensing for a higher STAR Level License.

    • All programs will have their STAR level verified, based on quality criteria in the AIM HIGH Essential Elements at their annual licensing visit based on current criteria.

    • As a program’s STAR level increases, reimbursement for children receiving subsidies from Child Care Assistance increases.

    • A 5-STAR license, means that the program is nationally accredited.

      • NECPA accreditation is recognized

  • AIM HIGH is a program developed by the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) to improve the quality of child care services to families in New Mexico.

    • New Mexico is in the process of implementing the third generation of our Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) called FOCUS. FOCUS will replace AIM HIGH in the succeeding years. Programs are now encouraged to apply to participate in FOCUS as part of the Pilot Phase.

    • All current 3 or 4 STAR licensed programs not in FOCUS will be required to meet AIM HIGH Essential Elements of Quality and respective STAR levels will be verified annually using the AIM HIGH Essential Elements of Quality criteria. All licensed programs wishing to apply for a new 3, 4,or 5 STAR license will be required to participate in FOCUS.


New York


  • QUALITYstarsNY is a voluntary five-star “rating system" much like those used for hotels and restaurants, with the number of stars indicating the quality of an early care and learning program. However, unlike those other rating systems, QUALITYstarsNY provides an infrastructure for assessing, improving and communicating the quality of care provided by early learning programs.

  • QUALITYstarsNY also facilitates a continuous quality improvement process through a wide variety of supports to early childhood professionals. QUALITYstarsNY was created to improve the quality of care for New York State's youngest children and to ensure their opportunity for high quality early learning experiences.

  • Start With Stars

    • Start with Stars is an initiative designed to support programs that are just starting out as well as those with challenges related to meeting licensing requirements to rapidly address foundational issues and get on the path to providing high quality early childhood education opportunities.

    • Resources include:

      • A designated QI Specialist, an expert in the early childhood field, to provide regular support, coaching and collaborative goal-setting, both in person and remotely;

      • Quality improvement funds for materials, supplies, and equipment to improve the quality of the learning environment;

      • Start with Stars funds to support the professional development of staff;

      • Reports and data to inform current and future improvement strategies;

      • Technical assistance to understand and resolve regulatory issues;

      • Links to appropriate resources for materials and professional development


North Carolina

QRIS: North Carolina Star Rated License

  • In 1999, the Division of Child Development (DCD) began issuing star rated licenses to all eligible child care centers and family child care homes. Facilities can receive one to five stars. A rating of one star means that a child care program meets North Carolina’s minimum licensing standards for child care. Programs that choose to voluntarily meet higher standards can apply for a two to five star license.


North Dakota

QRIS: Bright & Early ND

  • Bright & Early is the name of North Dakota's Quality Rating & Improvement System (QRIS). The Bright & Early 4-Star Rating System helps parents and providers assess how a child care program supports a child's early learning and development. You use ratings to choose restaurants, hotels, movies, schools and universities. The same concept is used by Bright & Early ND. Early Care and Education programs are rated by Bright & Early ND based on specific standards that define quality so you can be confident quality-rated programs have your child's best interest in mind.

  • When programs demonstrate they meet the Quality Standards, they receive dollars to re-invest into their program to improve their services, retain their staff, or expand their capacity.



QRIS: Step Up to Quality

  • Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) is a five–star quality rating and improvement system administered by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. SUTQ recognizes and promotes learning and development programs that meet quality program standards that exceed licensing health and safety regulations. The program standards are based on national research identifying standards which lead to improved outcomes for children.

  • Programs earn additional points for improved ratios and accreditation – NECPA accreditation is recognized

  • Quality Achievement Awards are currently issued to programs that earn or maintain a star rating through the Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) tiered rating system. These payments are based on licensed capacity, the average number of publicly funded children served in the previous six months and the provider’s achieved star rating.



QRIS: Reaching for the Stars

  • In Oklahoma, a variety of initiatives have been implemented to improve the level of child care quality. A tiered system of quality and reimbursement known as “Reaching for the Stars” provides incentives for programs that meet the “star” criteria. The Reaching for the Stars Program has 4 levels of rating facilities in which specified criteria must be met:

    • One-Star programs meet minimum licensing requirements.

    • One-Star Plus programs meet additional quality criteria which includes: additional training, reading to children daily, parent involvement and program assessment.

    • Two-Star programs meet additional quality criteria or are nationally accredited.

    • Three-Star programs meet additional quality criteria and are nationally accredited.

      • NECPA accreditation is recognized

  • What support systems were created to support the Stars program?

    • Reward is a salary supplement for child care employees who have worked in one facility for at least six months and earned a credential or college degree;

    • Two year colleges make child development coursework more available with counseling and support provided by Early Childhood Scholar Coordinators;

    • ECERS and other related scales are used by trained evaluators to provide a free evaluation of the two and three star programs;

    • Two and three star centers receive twice as many conference vouchers as one star programs;

    • One star plus, two, and three star facilities receive extra bonus points when applying for a child care accreditation grant;and

    • The Accreditation Support Project provides financial support and mentoring through the Center for Early Childhood Professional Development (CECPD) to assist programs working toward accreditation.



QRIS: Spark

  • Oregon’s Quality Rating and Improvement System supports and incentivizes continuous quality improvements for care and education programs and their workforce. The QRIS partners with families and communities to highlight the importance of early learning experiences and to connect families and quality learning programs. Investments and resources are prioritized to increase access to quality care for children, families, and communities furthest from opportunity.

  • Programs receive financial supports and technical assistance when they make quality improvements.



QRIS: Keystone Stars Child Care Quality Initiative

  • Keystone STARS is a voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) in early learning and school age environments that builds on the health and safety requirements of child care certification.

  • Child care, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten programs earn a STAR 1 through STAR 4 rating by meeting research-based performance standards for staff qualifications and professional development; learning program (child observation, curriculum, classroom environment); partnerships with family and community; and leadership and management (business practices).

  • Keystone STARS programs may also receive grants and awards, professional development, and technical assistance to help them move up the STARS ladder.

    • NECPA Accreditation is recognized at STAR level 4


Rhode Island

QRIS: BrightStars

  • BrightStars, Rhode Island’s Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement system, assists families in finding care and recognizes and supports quality in early care and education programs.

  • What are the benefits/incentives for joining BrightStars?

    • Support in setting and achieving quality improvement goals and accessing state resources.

    • Support to market or promote your program, including parent brochures, marketing materials, and access to the BrightStars logo. BrightStars programs are also featured on our website, www.BrightStars.org, and in the Exceed database of child care, early learning, and school-age programs.

    • Priority referral to parents searching for care through our online and phone-based referral services.


South Carolina

QRIS: ABC Quality

  • ABC Quality helps providers, who volunteer to participate, achieve higher standards of quality in caring for the children they serve.ABC Quality is SC's voluntary quality rating and improvement system for child care providers.

    • ABC Quality provides technical assistance, training, and scholarships to the child care workforce.

    • ABC Quality conducts regular on-site reviews to measure performance on the program standards for each level of quality.

    • ABC Quality observes classrooms, materials, activities, and caregiver interactions with children to determine the level of quality.

    • ABC Quality reviews findings and recommendations with child care providers to help them improve.

    • ABC Quality creates scholarship opportunities for child care providers to attend state conferences that are focused on providing quality child care.

    • ABC Quality offers grants to providers and other supports to help them improve their quality of care.

  • There are 5 levels in ABC Quality:

    • Level A+: These programs are measured against the best national quality standards. A+ programs meet the highest quality child care standards in the state and have the highest scores on Environment Rating Scales (ERS) assessments and receive the highest SC voucher payment rate and quality incentives.

    • Level A: These programs are measured against the best national quality standards and meet the highest quality standards on ERS assessments.Level A programs receive a higher voucher payment rate and quality incentives.

    • Level B+: These programs are measured against state quality standards far beyond basic health and safety regulations. B+ programs have the highest scores on the ABC standards and receive a higher voucher payment rate and quality incentive.

    • Level B: These programs are measured against state quality standards beyond basic health and safety regulations. B programs meet ABC standards and receive increased SC voucher payment rates and some quality incentives.

    • Level C: These are licensed programs, or programs legally exempt from licensing requirements, that meet basic health and safety regulations and standards. C programs receive the basic voucher payment rate and may qualify for grants to improve their facility.


South Dakota

The Division of Child Care Services

  • The Division of Child Care Services provides assistance to low income families who need help with child care costs while parents work or attend school. They also provide oversight, technical assistance and support in promoting safe, healthy and caring environments for children through licensing, registration and quality improvement activities. The availability of quality child care is not only important for maintaining a strong workforce; it is vital for the growth and development of healthy children.

  • QRIS currently not in place



QRIS: Star-Quality Child Care Program

  • The Star-Quality Child Care Program is a voluntary program that recognizes child care agencies who exceed minimum licensing standards. These agencies can receive a rating of one, two or three stars. An agency must be open for one year before it is eligible to receive stars.

  • 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.



QRIS: Texas Rising Star

  • The Texas Rising Star program is “a voluntary, quality-based child care rating system of child care providers participating in the Texas Workforce Commission’s subsidized child care program.”

  • TRS Certification is available to Licensed Center and Licensed and Registered Child Care Home providers who meet the certification criteria. The TRS Provider certification system offers three levels of certification (Two-Star, Three-Star, and Four-Star) to encourage providers to attain progressively higher certification requirements leading to a Four-Star level.

    • NECPA Accreditation is recognized at the Four-Star level

  • Benefits of participation include:

    • Providers can receive higher reimbursement rates for children in care through child care subsidy program, in the following manner; those that are 2-star TRS or participating in the Texas School Ready! Project (TSR) receive 5% greater reimbursement; those that are 3-star TRS receive 7 % greater reimbursement; and those that are 4-star receive 9 % greater reimbursement.

    • Providers can also have access to mentoring services in assisting with obtaining and maintaining TRS and/or national accreditation through the local Board they are affiliated with. These mentoring services can include specific technical assistance and training to ensure the provider and staff is compliant with TRS criterion and state child care minimum standards.

    • Providers also have access to professional development through the Children’s Learning Institute’s (CLI) Engage website which includes a CDA component and child assessments.

    • Local Board areas may offer additional services (i.e. direct assistance and educational support) as available and applicable.



QRIS: Child Care Quality System

  • The Office of Child Care (OCC) is implementing a Child Care Quality System (CCQS) to support high-quality care for low-income children as required by the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) reauthorization.

    • It will be a hybrid system and it is proposed that points be given for center accreditation, including NAEYC, NECPA, and NAC.

  • The CCQS is comprised of six components that research has shown to support positive outcomes for children in early care programs.The six components include Licensing Compliance, Quality Indicators, Education of Director or Licensee, Education of Caregivers, Observations and Accreditation.

  • In order to participate, a program must be a licensed program in good standing (not have a conditional license).Financial incentives and support may be available to programs that are eligible to receive funding through the Office of Child Care.

  • The Certified Childcare Professional credential for teachers has been incorporated into the QRIS as a teacher credential.



QRIS: STARS (Step Ahead Recognition System)

  • STARS 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.

  • Programs that participate in STARS get:

    • A higher reimbursement rate from the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (5% to 40% above base rate) based on the number of stars earned.

    • Bonus payments for each level achieved ranging from $250 to $1,550.

    • 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.

    • Discounts from some companies.



QRIS: Virginia Quality:

  • Virginia Quality is the state’s voluntary Quality Rating and Improvement System. Early learning programs must be in good standing with all requirements of their regulating authority.

  • The quality rating standards set the standards for quality improvement. There are five quality levels. At each level, programs are assessed on certain quality features and will be engaged in quality improvement. The criteria define what the program will be assessed on, and the required activities define the quality improvement activities that will be available to help achieve the quality improvement required for moving to the next level.

  • Early learning programs engaged in Virginia Quality:

    • Learn about and incorporate best practices in early education and care.

    • Receive recognition for existing quality work with children and families.

    • Develop practical goals and strategies to guide program improvement.

    • Access professional development, technical assistance, and grants linked to achieving and maintaining quality.

    • Communicate to families the good work you do every day and your work to continually improve quality



QRIS: Early Achievers

  • Early Achievers, Washington’s quality rating and improvement system:

    • Was developed with input and support from child care providers across the state.

    • Connects families to early learning and care programs with the help of an easy-to-understand rating system.

    • Offers coaching, professional development and resources for providers to support each child’s learning and development.

    • Ensures that participating providers, especially those who serve low income families, receive help and resources to sustain high quality programming.

  • Level 1: Licensing or certification

    • Includes all licensed child care centers and family child care, military, tribal, Head Start and ECEAP, and other state-funded programs.

  • Level 2: Professional Growth and Facility Management

    • Facility leadership will complete a series of activities including the Professional Training Series and self-assessment.

  • Levels 3 through 5 ratings are assigned points based on:

    • Child outcomes

    • Curriculum, learning, environments and interactions

    • Professional development and training

    • Family engagement and partnership


West Virginia

Bureau for Children and Families – WV Tiered Reimbursement Program

  • A tiered reimbursement system offers higher subsidy payments to programs that demonstrate they meet higher standards of care. Programs may apply for Tier II or Tier III reimbursement rates if specific higher quality standards are met. A center may receive one of three tiered rates based on the age of the children in care and the program’s tier level.

  • QRIS currently not in place



QRIS: YoungStar

  • YoungStar is Wisconsin’s five-star quality improvement and rating system (QRIS) for childcare providers.The rating system is based on four categories: education levels of providers, children’s learning environment, providers’ business practices, and the health and well-being of children. We give parents the tools and information they need to raise happy, healthy kids. And, we help preschools, home-based programs, learning centers, and other child care providers give children safe, nurturing places to grow.

    • How do we do it?

      • By objectively measuring child care quality. We rate thousands of child care providers, awarding up to five stars for the best quality of care.

      • By giving parents an easy way to compare their local child care options and find the programs that match their family's lifestyle, budget, and special needs.

      • By supporting providers with tools and training to deliver high-quality care

      • By setting a consistent standard for child care quality

  • Of course, the most important incentive for participation in YoungStar is the opportunity to improve program quality and thus improve the outcomes for the children enrolled in your program. Other benefits available to programs participating in YoungStar are:

    • On-site training and technical assistance, upon request

    • Local training opportunities

    • Micro-grants to support the goals outlined in programs’ Quality Improvement Plans

    • Professional development counseling and supports for credit- and noncredit-based growth opportunities, through Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) Professional Development Consultants and YoungStar Technical Consultants.

  • YoungStar accepts the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) as equivalent to a 4 Star or 5 Star rating under the following conditions:

    • If a program is accredited by NECPA and the program meets the educational requirements of a 4 Star program in their respective YoungStar rating track, that program would be eligible for a 4 Star rating.

    • If a program is accredited by NECPA and the program meets the educational requirements of a 5 Star program in their respective YoungStar rating track, that program would be eligible for a 5 Star rating.

    • When a program becomes accredited or extends/renews their accreditation by NECPA, it is the responsibility of the program to send their certificate of accreditation/re-accreditation to the Department of Children and Families via fax: 608-224-6178 or via email to: [email protected]



WY Quality Counts

  • WY Quality Counts helps Wyoming parents and child care providers identify and create quality learning experiences today, which helps ensure a bright, innovative and viable workforce for the future.

  • WY Quality Counts’ mission is to raise awareness about why quality child care matters for Wyoming’s children, their families and our future. The program promotes quality education opportunities, preparing children for success by using developmentally-appropriate teaching methods and materials to develop cognitive, language, social/emotional and motor skills. WY Quality Counts also provides funding for professionals in early childhood education.

    • Education, training and professional development are critical for a child care provider to be the best they can be. That’s why we offer funding in the form of scholarships and grants. As a 100% state-funded program, WY Quality Counts’ resources are subject to availability of funds. All scholarship and grant applications are due to the Department of Workforce Services between 45 and 110 days prior to the start of your training, degree or certificate program.

  • By making life easier for child care providers, WY Quality Counts can help you feel empowered, energized and more free to do what you love: lead, teach and nurture the kids of Wyoming.

  • QRIS currently not in place


District of Columbia

QRIS: Capital Quality

  • The Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s (OSSE) Division of Early Learning (DEL) recently launched Capital Quality, the District of Columbia’s enhanced Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Capital Quality replaces Going for the Gold, the District’s original QRIS, with a system that measures program quality and focuses on continuous quality improvement.

  • OSSE recognized the need to modify to the original QRIS due to changes in the District’s education sector and an increased need for a common measure of quality across all three sectors (public charter schools, DC Public Schools, and community-based organizations). Most importantly, Capital Quality will be public-facing, which will allow parents to review and compare the program quality of various child development providers throughout the District, and make informed decisions when deciding where to enroll their child.

  • While accreditation will not be a part of the Capital Quality rating, a program’s accreditation status will be included on the program’s Capital Quality profile and available for families to see when choosing a child care facility that best meets their child’s needs.

  • Will there be funding available for materials needed for achieving goals towards quality?

    • In the fiscal year 2018 (beginning Oct. 1, 2017), OSSE will provide incentives and supports to programs participating in Capital Quality in increasing quality through the purchase of materials and supplies. More information about available supports to programs in the form of technical assistance, coaching, mentoring, and professional development will be forthcoming in the coming months.


Department of Defense

Child Care Aware of America

  • Child Care Aware® of America operates a Fee Assistance Program that serves military and non-military families.

  • National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) is recognized by the DoD for either on-base child care or for the DoD’s Off-Base Child Care Military Fee Assistance Program

  • National accreditation is an additional criteria used to determine the quality of a child care program. Family child care homes and child care centers may pursue accreditation in order to increase the quality of their care. Accredited providers must meet higher standards than those set forth by licensing. These programs offer the kind of care, attention, and educational activities parents look for in quality child care programs, in addition to offering activities and experiences that will aid in a child’s growth and development and that will help prepare them for school.

  • In order for child care centers to meet MCCYN requirements, they must meet OMCC criteria AND be accredited by one of the approved national accreditation agencies listed below:

    • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

    • National Accreditation Commission (NAC)

    • National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)

    • Council on Accreditation (COA)

    • AdvancED Accreditation