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Information about the Hillsborough QRIS is not currently available.

Information about the Sarasota Look for the Stars QRIS is not currently available.

Grow NJ Kids

Program Website

Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey’s QRIS, started in 2013 in four counties and now serves the entire state. Programs served include Center Based Programs, Family Child Care Providers, School District Programs, Head Start Programs, and Early Head Start Programs. These programs are provided with assistance to develop a quality improvement plan in order to reach a star rating. Our QRIS quality network has expanded to include partners from Rowan University, Montclair State University, Rutgers University, as well as local CCR&Rs, and regional Technical Assistance Centers.

Step Up to Quality

Program Website

The Nebraska QRIS launched on July 1, 2014. It is a statewide system, with some providers targeted based on the amount of their child care subsidy reimbursement. Licensed providers that receive $500,000 or more were required to participate before the end of 2014; those that received $250,000 or more were required to participate by year-end 2015 (Year 2). Moving forward, any program receiving $250,000 in subsidy the prior year must participate by year-end or the following year. All other licensed programs, Head Start, Public School early childhood programs, and nationally accredited programs may also voluntarily participate. Licensing is Step 1. Providers must create a profile in the NECPRS data base and attend the on-line orientation. Step 2 encompasses some of the required child care licensing training, an additional Special Care Training, and the introduction to either the CLASS or ERS tool. Steps 3 through 5 will allow choices in five standard areas to make progress and will earn points for completing defined indicators. Participants must earn 1 point in each standard area before they can move up a step level. With the revision programs must achieve at least 50 points to achieve Step 3. They must score at least 3.75 on either the CLASS or ERS to achieve Step 4 and a 4.75 on the CLASS or ERS to achieve Step 5.

Learn & Grow

Program Website

In July 2016, Alaska launched Phase I of Learn & Grow, which included Block Levels 1 & 2 of 5 levels of quality and is available statewide to all licensed child care programs. In April 2021, Phase II of Learn & Grow announced the hybrid framework Level 1 - Level 5 and menu of points for programs to choose from. Currently, there are 49%, not including stand-alone before and after school licensed programs, three Pre-elementary programs and one Head Start program participating. Learn & Grow is built on the foundation of licensing standards and has quality standards in the following four domains: 1) Administration & Leadership, 2) ECE Qualifications & Professional Development, 3) Learning Environment, Adult-Child Interactions, & Child Outcomes, and 4) Family & Community Engagement. There is a strong focus on continuous quality improvement and standards are more about process than product. Learn & Grow is located and managed by Alaska’s CCR&R network, called "thread." Learn & Grow leverages resources from thread and Alaska SEED (System for Education Early Development, also located and managed by thread) such as technical assistance and coaching (Relationship Based Professional Development), training, funding, assessment, professional development registry/career ladder, training approval system, and, soon, a coaching (RBPD) approval system.

Alabama Quality STARS: Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

Program Website

The Alabama Quality STARS Program (QRIS) began full implementation in February 2014. Eligible programs include all licensed family childcare homes, group daycare homes, and childcare centers that are in good standing with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Childcare programs that cannot be licensed by the Alabama Department of Human Resources, such as military, public school, college, university, and Tribal programs are also eligible to participate. The system was redesigned in 2021 when DHR contracted with the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education as the vendor for the QRIS program which uses research based criteria to evaluate, assess, and assign STAR ratings based on the childcare program's level of quality. All licensed child care providers in good standing are automatically assigned a STAR 1 unless the provider decides to opt-out. Childcare programs with a STAR 2 rating or higher are actively pursuing higher levels of quality and continuous improvement. The STARS Standards are based on two scoring guides: the Best Practice Rubric and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). The Alabama Quality STARS QRIS program acknowledges the strengths of participating childcare programs and works alongside these providers to achieve higher levels of quality through technical assistance, training, and financial incentives.

Quality First

Program Website

Quality First is a statewide Quality Improvement and Rating System (QIRS) in Arizona. The system was developed in 2009 through a voter initiative and is funded by tobacco tax revenue. Quality First is a voluntary program and participants can achieve one of five quality star ratings. Regulated center-based and family child care programs can apply and progress in the block rating structure based on their ability to meet indicators within two standards: 1) Environments (ERS), and 2) Interactions (CLASS). Star ratings are used to assign a corresponding level of support. Support includes coaching, coordination, consultation and financial incentives. The highest level of support is given to programs with the lowest star ratings.

Better Beginnings

Program Website

Better Beginnings is a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System in Arkansas. It began in 2010 and is managed by the Arkansas Department of Education, Office of Early Childhood. Licensed center-based and licensed family child care programs are eligible to participate. It is composed of six levels and uses a block rating structure. Programs are rated based on four categories: 1) Administration, 2) Staff Qualifications and Professional Development, 3) Learning Environment/Environment Assessment, and 4) Child Health and Development.

Quality Counts California (QCC)

Program Website

Collaborative state and local efforts to improve the quality of early learning and care programs for California’s children have been underway for more than a decade. This began in 2011 with the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, which provided states with funding to develop a statewide, locally-driven quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). When this funding expired in 2015, leaders from across the state agreed to consolidate these efforts into Quality Counts California, with funding from the California Department of Education, California Department of Social Services, and First 5 California. Collectively, investments from these agencies provide the opportunity to serve a full spectrum of program types, expand the reach of QIS, and effectively increase quality throughout the state.

Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System

Program Website

Colorado Shines is a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System. The Colorado Shines rating is attached to the state child care licensing rules and regulations making participation mandatory for licensed center-based and family child care programs serving children 0-5. The system uses a hybrid block and point rating structure composed of five levels. While participation is mandatory at Level 1, higher Levels 2 through 5 are voluntary. Programs are rated on five areas of quality: 1) Workforce Qualification and Professional Development, 2) Family Partnerships, 3) Leadership, Management and Administration, 4) Learning Environment, and 5) Child Health.


Program Website

Elevate is the Office of Early Childhood’s (OEC) quality improvement system for licensed and license-exempt child care programs in family, group, and center-based settings. Elevate builds on Connecticut’s licensing requirements and links to national accreditation standards. It also brings together OEC’s existing technical assistance and professional development opportunities with exciting new resources. Elevate offers 3 levels of engagement—Member, Member+, and Member Accredited. All providers – licensed or license-exempt, in family, group, or center-based settings – are Members. We use the Member+ designation for programs with an Elevate Program Plan (a program improvement plan). Member Accredited is for programs that meet national standards for high quality care from NAEYC, the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), and/or Head Start. Learn more about Elevate at

Delaware Stars for Early Success

Program Website

All early care and education programs licensed by the Office of Child Care Licensing are eligible for two levels of support offered as part of Delaware Stars for Early Success. Tier 1, or universal support includes access to monthly e-newsletters, introductory training on diverse topics, technical assistance, as well as resources on the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood’s (DIEEC) website. Licensed programs are also able to opt into periods of Tier 2, or targeted support. To receive targeted support, programs will identify an area of program operations in which they would like to work with a Quality Improvement Specialist to undergo a cycle(s) of quality improvement. Targeted support includes the development of a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP). Action items on the QIP may include participating in professional learning experiences that offer a series of training and coaching on a related topic, enhancements to program policies and procedures and review of vetted materials from nationally recognized organizations. Programs that receive state funding for early care and education receive Tier 3 supports and are expected to be consistently engage with targeted support offered as part of Delaware Stars for Early Success. Programs participate in an induction program that orients participants to State-Funded Early Care and Education’s policies and procedures. Group Reflective Experiences follow each procedural topic encouraging program leaders to ask questions and share strategies for implementation. These programs also develop quality improvement plans and collaborate with a Quality Improvement Specialist to implement.

Capital Quality

Program Website

Capital Quality is the quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) in licensed child development facilities in the District of Columbia. Capital Quality measures the quality of early care and education programs in licensed child development facilities and supports providers to continuously improve quality. Capital Quality participant information is publicly available on My Child Care DC ( My Child Care DC allows families to review and compare the quality of programs throughout the District and make informed decisions about where to enroll their child. Capital Quality measures programs in areas that are known to make a difference in early learning quality, including the environment, program structure, and teacher-child interactions. Programs are assessed using the evidence-based Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale, Third Edition (ITERS-3), Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale, Third Edition (FCCERS-3) and/or Classroom Assessment Scoring System Pre-K (CLASS Pre-K).

School Readiness and Voluntary PreK Program Assessment (FL State)

Program Website

The School Readiness Program Assessment is statutorily mandated for providers serving children birth to kindergarten entry and wishing to enter into a contract to provide subsidized child care. Providers receive CLASS observations in 50% of their classrooms by care level: infant, toddler and preschool. The rooms are randomly selected by an algorithm. The dimensions of the CLASS tool (except Negative Climate) are averaged together to create a composite score. At a minimum, providers must receive a composite of at least 4.0 to enter into a contract. Providers who receive scores below a 4.0 may be eligible to participate in a 12-month Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) if they are deemed necessary based on local capacity. Intervention strategies may be locally designed, or providers may be assigned up to two of the Division of Early Learning (DEL) approved strategies: CLASS Group Coaching (formerly MMCI), 20 hours of Coaching, 20 hours of IACET training, 20 hours of Early Learning Florida courses or Professional Development. Providers who receive scores at the Contract Minimum Threshold of 4.0 or better receive differentials of 4% (4.5 - 4.99), 7% (5.00 - 5.99) or 10% (6-7). In addition, providers may elect to conduct child assessments for a 5% differential on top of their base reimbursement rate. As of 20223, providers receiving state-VPK funding are required to have 100% of their classrooms observed and meet a minimum of 4.00 on CLASS. Recent legislation mandated program assessment with CLASS for all Voluntary Prekindergarten providers in Florida.

Guiding Stars of Duval

Program Website

Guiding Stars of Duval 5.0 (in its fifth iteration effective 7/1/2023) is a county-wide Quality Rating and Improvement System operating in Duval County, Florida. Guiding Stars has been implemented for over 10 years. The QRIS has five levels arranged in a hybrid level / points rating structure. Licensed and licensed-exempt programs (center-based and family childcare homes) can apply, and are rated on three categories: 1) Program Personnel - Staff Qualifications and Professional Development (30%), 2) Program Assessment - Teacher Child Interactions (40%), and 3) Program Content - Child Well-Being and Child Assessment (30%).

Thrive by 5 Early Learning Quality Improvement System (Miami-Dade County)

Program Website

Thrive by 5 QIS was redesigned to address disparities in our community and ensure that all children in our community have equitable access to high quality early learning experiences and that all children are prepared and ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. Programs earn a tier level according to a CLASS composite score and receive tiered payment differentials according to their tier. Differentials are paid on ALL children, not only subsidized children and are based on enrollment and maximum days paid per month. Additionally, mental health consultation, salary supplements, child assessment supports and subscriptions, a robust educator scholarship program, and on-site coaching are available to programs. The QIS also incorporates a child scholarship component which offers scholarships to families that do not qualify for subsidized childcare but cannot afford the high cost of quality childcare. The scholarships must be used in Tier 4 & 5 programs.

Quality Rated

Program Website

Georgia's Quality Rated is a statewide system that began in 2012. The QRIS is composed of three possible rating levels and uses a points-based structure, ratings earned are valid for 3 years. Eligible programs include licensed center-based, family child care, and stand-alone school-age programs; Head Start/EHS, and other ECE programs such as Department of Defense (DOD) programs and University and College lab schools. All participating programs are rated based on evidence submitted in an electronic portfolio in five structural quality categories or standards and upon observation of classroom practices where they demonstrate their process quality. The 5 categories or standards in the structural quality component are 1) Director and Teacher Qualifications and Georgia Professional Development System (GaPDS) Verification, 2) Child Health, Nutrition, and Physical Activity, 3) Family Engagement, 4) Intentional Teaching Practices, and 5) Teacher-to-Student Ratios. The process quality score is determined using the family of Environment Rating Scales (ERS). The structural quality and process quality scores, along with any bonus points awarded by completion of approved national accreditations, are used to determine a program's overall star rating. In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in early 2020, DECAL created new Temporary Alternate Rating Options (TARO) enabling programs to continue their quality improvement journey. TARO provided a mechanism for programs to achieve a temporary rating through a virtual process that served as a substitute for the process quality points typically earned during the live ERS observation. Providers chose the best option from 3 different rating options that could be selected. Option A - Portfolio Only, allowed programs that maximized their Structural Quality points to earn a temporary 1-Star rating that was valid for one year only. Option B - Quality Rated Virtual Process (QRVP), allowed programs the opportunity to earn a temporary rating of up to 2-Stars which was valid for two years. Programs engaged in a collaborative process with Quality Rated staff and their Technical Assistance consultant whereby they completed assignments in 4 Topics that allowed them to demonstrate their classroom practices virtually, the topics were grounded in concepts from the ERS: 1) Schedules and Transitions, 2) Nurturing Relationships, 3) Impactful Interactions, and 4) Intentional Teaching. Each topic contained learning activities and 4 tasks or assignments that were submitted for scoring to earn the QRVP process quality points. The activities included a continuous quality improvement (CQI) report; webinar training with a quiz; and 2 demonstrated practice activities evidenced by the submission of required video clips, photos, and a targeted deep dive activity. Programs could also earn bonus points by completing optional assignments in each topic which comprised of online training specific to the topic. Option C - Live Observation-Virtual Experience (LO-VE) was the third rating option only available to programs that were seeking a re-rating and had previously been rated with an observation. This option provided the ability to earn a temporary 3-Star rating that was valid for two years. Building upon completion of all 4 Topics in the QRVP, programs complete a 5th topic - Literacy in the Environment and submit to a live observation that was conducted remotely utilizing robotic technology called Swivl and an iPad. The TARO rating system was a temporary solution to continue rating programs during the COVID pandemic, rating operations under the traditional method with on-site ERS observation resumed in July 2022.

In 2014, Guam began a pilot of its QRIS and its quality indicators related to scores on the ECERS and ITERS, education and training, and health and safety. The QRIS was revisited in 2019; however it was not implemented in early childhood programs. Guam is currently rebuilding and transitioning into a Quality Improvement System (QIS) with technical assistance provided by the State Capacity Building Center (SCBC). Currently Guam is in the development and planning phase of its QIS. The lead agency, the Bureau of Child Care Services (BCCS), conducts provider workgroup sessions with the intent to explore ways to improve the quality of child care services in Guam directly from local child care providers. The findings from this work will then lead into the creation of a systems framework that will eventually be implemented island-wide. BCCS intends to work with all stakeholders prior to the implementation of the framework by imposing provider surveys, parent focus groups, and state advisory advisement and formalize a proposed QIS by December 2024.

Hawai`i completed a pilot in 2014 to test the feasibility of scaling their quality improvement initiatives up to the statewide level. Following the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant in November 2014, they have chosen to focus on ensuring that they are meeting the health and safety, training, and monitoring requirements in the new law rather than formal QRIS development. Hawai`i continues to implement their on-going quality improvement initiatives, including the Learning to Grow program which provides resources in the area of child development to license-exempt providers and registered family child care providers; support to licensed and registered providers in meeting USDA food program requirements; free and low cost training for early care providers; scholarships for practitioners to complete a Child Development Associate credential or towards early childhood college credits; and participating in a workgroup which would provide mental health consultation resources to support licensed providers and their staff.

Steps to Quality

Program Website

Steps to Quality is Idaho's voluntary statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System. It is composed of six steps in a building block model. All licensed early childcare programs and Head Starts are eligible to participate. If a program's structure is eligible for subsidy, they must also be a certified subsidy provider to enroll. Only certified subsidy providers are eligible for monetary recognition. A Step 1 rating is completed in the IdahoSTARS online database. Steps 2-5 require an annual ERS and Step Verification with a verifier. Step 6 is a fast-track rating for accredited and Head Start programs. The seven quality domains used in a Step Verification are 1) Health, Safety, and Wellness, 2) Business Practices, 3) Child Development, 4) Curriculum and Instruction, 5) Environments, 6) Inclusion and Diversity, and 7) Partnerships with Families and Communities. Step Verifications are valid for one year. All ratings receive a certificate and are promoted on the IdahoSTARS website and in parent referrals. Step 3-6 are also eligible for monetary recognition. All Steps to Quality programs, prior to rating and throughout their annual rating cycles, are supported by a multidisciplinary team of coaches, including Resource Specialists, Health Consultants, and Quality Consultants. Coaching is available on-site and virtually and includes joint planning, focused observation, reflection, and feedback.

ExceleRate Illinois

Program Website

ExceleRate Illinois is a statewide system that began in 2013. It uses a block rating structure and is composed of four levels (Licensed, Bronze, Silver, and Gold). Licensed center-based programs and family child care homes are automatically enrolled once licensed. Participation at higher levels is voluntary. Programs are rated based on four domains: 1) Teaching and Learning, 2) Family and Community Engagement, 3) Leadership and Management, and 4) Qualifications and Continuing Education.

Paths to Quality(TM)

Program Website

Paths to Quality is the voluntary and statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System in Indiana. Eligible programs include licensed center-based and family child care programs as well as Registered Ministries that have achieved Voluntary Certification Program (VCP) and legally license-exempt public and non-public schools. It is composed of four levels and uses a block rating structure. Ratings are based on four categories: 1) Professional Development and Education, 2) Program Administration, 3) Environment and Instruction, and 4) Accreditation.

Iowa Quality for Kids (IQ4K)

Program Website

Iowa's voluntary Quality Rating System began in 2006. It was recalibrated in 2010. In April 2022, a brand new, redesigned Quality Rating and Improvement System entitled IQ4K - Iowa Quality for Kids rolled out statewide. IQ4K is an online system using evidence-based practices that supports continuous quality improvement across all areas of programming. Categories in IQ4K include Nutrition and Physical Activity, Professional Development, Environment, Family and Community Partnerships, Teacher/Provider Qualifications, Leadership and Administration and Teaching and Learning.

Kentucky All STARS

Program Website

Kentucky All STARS is Kentucky’s expanded five-star quality rating and improvement system serving all early care and education programs – including childcare centers, Head Start and public preschool – that receive public funding.

Louisiana's Unified Statewide Early Childhood Quality Rating and Improvement System

Program Website

In June 2015, Louisiana established a unified statewide quality rating and improvement system for child care, Head Start sites, and public and nonpublic schools serving children birth to five years of age. Through the unified rating and improvement system, each publicly-funded site and community in Louisiana receives a Performance Profile that includes a rating based on rigorous classroom observations using the CLASS system of measures. Performance Profiles also include information on best practices that measure important quality inputs, including use of ongoing assessment and a high-quality curriculum, the education and certifications of teachers, and teacher:child ratios. These profiles provide families with key information about all sites and community networks serving children through public funds.

Rising Stars for ME

Program Website

Rising Stars for ME is a five Star program designed to increase awareness of the importance of quality early childhood and out-of-school time experiences.

Reach Higher CNMI

Program Website

The CNMI’s QRIS – Reach Higher CNMI – was piloted in 2016 with 7 licensed child care centers. Full implementation of their quality initiative will begin in fiscal year 2023. Since the first pilot year, 17 licensed centers are now participating in QRIS, including two Montessori programs. Participation in Reach Higher CNMI is a requirement to receive CCDF child care subsidy. The CNMI continues to use the ERS and PAS to measure global quality across the following standards: health and safety, child development, staffing and professional development, children with special needs, family engagement and family strengthening, and leadership and management. Family child care providers will be phased into a pilot QRIS beginning 2024.

Maryland EXCELS (Excellence Counts in Early Learning and School-age Child Care)

Program Website

Maryland EXCELS is a statewide Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System that opened for statewide participation on July 1, 2013 after a pilot and field test. It is composed of five levels (1 - 5) and organized in a block rating structure. Participating programs are rated in five content areas: 1) Licensing and Compliance, 2) Staff Qualifications and Professional Development, 3) Accreditation and Rating Scales, 4) Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice, and 5) Administrative Policies and Practices.

Massachusetts Continuous Quality Improvement System (MA CQIS)

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) developed the Massachusetts QRIS in 2011 to improve the quality of early education and care programs across the Commonwealth. Currently, this system has been paused due to the pandemic to allow programs to focus on health and safety practices. EEC Program Quality Specialists continue to be available to support program’s continuous quality improvement efforts. For more information on EEC’s program quality efforts, please contact Anbelkys Gautreaux at

Great Start to Quality

Program Website

Great Start to Quality is Michigan's statewide Quality Recognition and Improvement System that became operational in 2011, which sets the quality standard and evaluates the quality of early care and education programs. It is funded by the Department of Education. Great Start to Quality includes 10 Resource Centers across the state that work with programs to take steps to improve their quality. Great Start to Quality also shares information about programs with families and helps families select the right program for their needs.

Parent Aware

Program Website

Parent Aware is Minnesota's statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System that began in 2007. It is composed of four levels, and participation is voluntary. Eligible programs are rated on five categories: 1) Teaching and Relationships with Children, 2) Relationships with Families, 3) Assessment and Planning for Each Individual Child, 4) Professionalism, and 5) Health and Well-being.

Missouri’s Quality Assurance Report (QAR) provides a continuous quality improvement process for early learning programs and provides families with consumer education about the quality of early childhood care and education settings. Statewide participation in the QAR is voluntary and all early learning programs operating in Missouri are eligible to join.

Best Beginnings STARS to Quality

Program Website

Best Beginnings STARS to Quality is Montana's statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System that began in 2010. Licensed center-based, family and group child care, and Head Start programs can apply. The system is composed of five levels that are arranged in a block rating structure. Programs are rated based on the following five categories: 1) Education, 2) Qualifications and Training, 3) Staff/ Caregiver-to-Child Ratio & Group Size, 4) Family/ Community Partnership, and 5) Leadership & Program Management.

Nevada Silver State Stars QRIS

Program Website

Nevada Silver State Stars QRIS is a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System that started in 2013. It is composed of five levels and uses a hybrid rating structure. Licensed center-based programs can apply, and ratings are determined by a set of required criteria for each level as well as an in-person Environment Rating Scale assessment. Previously, ratings were also based on additional quality indicators, beyond the required criteria. This changed in 2021. The Family Child Care model launched in Southern Nevada in 2016 and statewide in 2017. The Family Child Care model is similar to the Center model, with five levels, required criteria at each level, and an Environment Rating Scale assessment. The Local Education Agency (LEA or District) Model Pre-K model launched in 2016 for all schools that receive Pre-K Development Grant funding. The District model is also a five-level, hybrid model with required criteria and an Environment Rating Scale assessment. The LEA model was placed on hold for funding reasons from June 2019-June 2020. The district model came back online in July of 2020. A Tribal child care model is currently in a pilot phase beginning in the fall of 2023. This model is different from the others as it does not include a star rating. The Tribal Model is based on self assessment and coaching with a goal of continuous quality improvement that is culturally responsive to providers and families.

Granite Steps for Quality: New Hampshire's QRIS

Program Website

New Hampshire's QRIS was revised in 2022. Licensed center-based programs, including school-age and licensed family child care can participate. Programs can select one of two pathways: 1) Environment Rating Scales pathway or 2) Pyramid Model pathway. Within the selected pathway, programs must provide evidence of meeting criteria for two standards: 1) Staff Qualifications and 2) Learning Environments.

FOCUS ~ FOCUS on Young Children's Learning

Program Website

FOCUS On Young Children’s Learning, New Mexico’s Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS), provides early childhood program personnel with the criteria, tools, and resources they need to improve the quality of their programs. These quality improvements focus on children’s growth, development, and learning, so that each child has an equitable opportunity to be successful when entering school. The FOCUS program is implemented in Child Care Centers, Family Child Care Homes, Out of School Time Programs, and Tribal programs throughout the state.


Program Website

QUALITYstarsNY is New York State's voluntary 5-Star Quality Rating and Improvement System for early childhood programs. Since its inception, QUALITYstarsNY has focused its evidence-based practices to ensure that young children in participating programs have access to excellence and their families can trust the level of quality in the programs they choose.

Star Rated License System

Program Website

The Star Rated License System is North Carolina's statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System that began in 1999. The Star Rated License System awards one to five stars based on state-defined standards related to staff education and program standards. Licensed center-based and family child care home programs can earn up to seven points in each of these two areas and have the option to earn one quality point by meeting an additional educational or programmatic standard. The Star Rated License System is embedded in child care licensing requirements and is based on the total number of points earned for meeting increasingly stringent levels of standards as star ratings. The system is tied to tiered subsidy reimbursement payments based on a program's star rating.

Bright & Early North Dakota

Program Website

Bright & Early ND is North Dakota's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) that began in 2014. Bright & Early ND uses a block system approach which incorporates four standards, or steps, to quality. Each of the Bright & Early ND Steps to Quality focuses on one component of care and is composed of a consistent set of quality indicators that measure the program's practices. The Bright & Early ND Steps to Quality build upon each other to create a framework for continuous quality improvement. The outcome is a program that maximizes a child's readiness for school, work, and life. Step 1: Health and Safety. Step 1 Quality Rated programs are meeting and maintaining child care licensing regulations, this is the foundation of Bright & Early ND. Licensed early childhood programs are required to maintain at least minimum standards related to; physical space, safety features, cleanliness, staff qualifications and staff-to-child ratios. Children need to be healthy and feel safe to learn and grow. It is the first step in preparing children to be ready for school, work, and life. Step 2: Space and Materials. Step 2 Quality Rated programs are on the path to continuous quality improvement. They continue to meet the requirements of Step 1 and provide a safe, responsive, and engaging environment that sets the stage for optimal early childhood experiences. An intentionally designed environment allows opportunities for children to experiment, practice their skills, analyze, socialize and problem solve. When the environment supports children’s learning and development, they are better prepared for school, work, and life. Step 3: Activities and Experiences. Step 3 Quality Rated programs continue to meet the requirements of Steps 1 and 2 and provide meaningful activities and experiences that build upon children's strengths and development. Using a curriculum to plan activities and guide teaching practices which align to the North Dakota Early Standards. In addition, they conduct observation-based assessments to ensure children are making progress toward the goals outlined in their curriculum. When children have meaningful experiences, they are better prepared for school, work, and life. Step 4: Relationships and Interactions. Step 4 Quality Rated programs continue to meet the requirements of Steps 1-3 and foster relationships that support and emphasize children’s interests, motivations, and points of view. All children benefit from being in warm, supportive environments where they can take risks, learn new things, and develop strong relationships with their caregivers and peers. When children experience high-quality interactions, they are better prepared for school, work, and life.

Step Up To Quality

Program Website

Step Up To Quality is the statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System in Ohio that was developed in 2004. Eligible programs include licensed center-based and family child care programs. It is composed of five levels. Programs progress through this rating structure based on five categories: 1) Learning & Development, 2) Administrative & Leadership Practices, 3) Staff Qualifications & Professional Development, 4) Family & Community Partnerships, and 5) Staff/Child Ratio & Group Size & Accreditation.

The Stars Program

Program Website

The Stars Program is Oklahoma's statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System that began in 1998. The QRIS has five levels and is organized into a block rating structure. Eligible programs are rated based on seven categories: 1) Administrative, 2) Director, Personnel, and Primary Caregiver Qualifications, 3) Professional Development, 4) Learning and Development, 5) Family Partnership, 6) Program Evaluation for Continuous Quality Improvement, and 7) Additional Four- and Five-Star Criteria.

Oregon Spark

Program Website

Oregon's Quality Rating and Improvement System (Spark) started in 2013. Spark is composed of five levels, with the first level being licensure. Licensed center-based (and unlicensed programs operated by school districts) and family child care programs are eligible to participate and are rated based on a block system in five categories: 1) Children's Learning and Development, 2) Health and Safety, 3) Personnel Qualifications, 4) Family Partnerships, and 5) Administrative and Business Practices.

Keystone STARS

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Pennsylvania's Keystone STARS is a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System that began in 2002. Both Department of Human Services certified child care providers with a regular certificate of compliance and private academic preschool programs, licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in good standing are awarded a STAR 1 to indicate foundational achievement in meeting health and safety standards. Programs may choose to participate in ongoing quality improvement activities to move up to a STAR 2, 3, or 4. Keystone STARS is composed of four levels and organized in a hybrid points and block rating structure. Program ratings are based on four performance standards categories: 1) Staff Qualifications and Professional Development, 2) Early Childhood Education Program, 3) Partnerships with Family and Community, and 4) Leadership and Management. In order to be designated as a STAR 2, programs must meet all required quality indicators at this STAR level. At STAR 3 and 4, programs must, in addition to meeting all STAR 2 required indicators, meet an additional 2 required quality indicators and then earn sufficient points from the optional points-based quality indicators. In order to be a STAR 3, programs must earn at least 70% of available points in each of the 4 Performance Standards categories. In order to be a STAR 4, programs must earn at least 85% of available points in each of the 4 Performance Standard categories.

The Administration for the Integral Care and Development of Children (ACUDEN) understands it necessary to update this instrument, according to the updates of the competencies of the National Association for Early Childhood Education (NAEYC) and Act No. 173 of August 12, 2016, as amended, better known as the Act for the Licensing of Care, Development, and Learning Establishments for Children in Puerto Rico. To fulfill this purpose, the Administration for the Integral Care and Development of Early Childhood (ACUDEN) commissioned the Department of Social Work of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus, to carry out an update of the referred measurement instrument. ACUDEN named this quality measurement instrument: Centers of the Future. The instrument referred to is composed of five parts, these are: I- Profile of the Center; It comprises the collection of general data and characteristics of the Center and the personnel working in it. II- Thematic Axis 1 - Relationships involving the Center; In this section, the person responsible for completing the instrument will find a series of questions for evaluation. They will be asked about the relationships between educational and non-educational staff, parents and caregivers, children, the community, and all relationships involving the Center. III- Thematic Axis 2 - Educational and developmental aspects of the children; In this section, the person responsible for completing the instrument will find a series of questions for evaluation. They will be asked about the educational philosophy, curriculum, experiences and activities for the children's learning and development. IV- Thematic Axis 3 - Supervision, Administration and Processes at the Center; In this section, the person responsible for completing the instrument will find a series of questions for evaluation. They will be asked about the supervision, leadership, environment, protocols, procedures, human resources, fiscal, health, food, technological and administrative processes carried out at the Center. V- Tabulation of Thematic Axes; In this part of the instrument, the person responsible for completing the instrument will find a space in tables in which he/she will break down the results of each of the three (3) thematic axes and perform the requested mathematical calculation. With this calculation, the person in charge will obtain the Center's final score, which will range from 0 to 100%. VI- Development Plan; In this space the person who completes the instrument, together with his/her mentor, will be able to make determinations and receive recommendations of the areas with areas of opportunity for improvement. To complete this part of the instrument, the person will identify the axes with the highest and lowest scores among the three (3) thematic axes. By completing parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, the Centers will be able to analyze their performance and will be able to have a clearer notion of what they do or do not do under best practices. By completing parts 6, Centers will be able to have more information on what they do or do not do. In this last part and in order to measure compliance with this data, it is becoming increasingly necessary to develop a mentoring support system for the Centers themselves. Centers of the Future evaluates the services offered by early childhood centers from the private and public sectors. It is a voluntary self-assessment process.


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BrightStars is a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System operating in Rhode Island. It started in 2009 and is composed of five levels. Eligible programs include licensed center-based programs, preschools located in public schools, school-age programs, and family child care programs. Once enrolled, programs are rated in ten categories: 1) Learning Environment, 2) Minimum Staff-Child Ratio, 3) Maximum Group Size, 4) Teacher Qualifications, 5) Program Leadership, 6) Continuous Quality Improvement, 7) Curriculum, 8) Child Assessment, 9) Inclusive Classroom Practices, and 10) Family Communication and Involvement.

ABC Quality

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South Carolina's formal QRIS, known as ABC Quality, began in 2007. All legally operating child care programs statewide are eligible to participate. There are five levels that are arranged in a hybrid rating structure. Ratings are based on three components: 1) Eligibility Requirements to Participate evaluated annually, 2) Process Quality Elements determined by annual scores of the selected classrooms observed, and 3) Structural Quality Elements relating to the administrative and policy aspects of early care and education including, staff qualifications and professional development, and policies to support areas such as nutrition, inclusion, and family engagement.

South Dakota is conducting a pilot of a Quality Recognition and Information System (QRIS) to support quality in child care and school-age programs. The pilot is being led by the South Dakota State University Quality Collaborative in collaboration with the South Dakota Early Childhood Enrichment (ECE) System and support from the South Dakota Department of Social Services. The pilot emphasizes continuous quality improvement (CQI) and provides coaching, program incentives, and resources to support overall program improvement.

Tennessee Quality Rating Improvement System

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The Tennessee Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) directly relates the quality of child care provided to the corresponding center, home, or facility. Understanding how the score relates to quality will help families choose which facility best fits the needs of their child and family. QRIS is designed to score two (2) different areas of quality on a quarterly basis for a total of four (4) visits. The total score possible for each visit is 100. Upon completion of the fourth visit, the four (4) scores are averaged to determine the overall score for the child care agency. This score is displayed at the agency or home. The quality of child care has a direct impact on a child's ability to learn, to build healthy relationships, and to become the best they can be. The critical decision of where to place their child is often difficult and confusing for parents. Because the quality of child care and a positive future for our children depends on parents, having tools necessary for making informed choices for their family, the Department of Human Services is helping parents with this very important decision through Tennessee's Child Care Score Card System. Under Tennessee's Child Care Score Card System new QRIS, every licensed child care agency must undergo a quarterly evaluation for the annual cycle and post a score card of the results. Agencies are required to post their score card with their renewal license where parents can clearly see them inside the agency. The Score Card system is mandatory for all licensed providers following the completion of all four quarterly visits, after receiving a continuous license status from the agency’s Licensing Consultant. An agency must be opened for one (1) year before it is assessed. The score card contains the agency's rating for each of the two components: 1) Health and Safety and 2) Teacher-Child Interactions. This is applicable to all licensed child care centers and group family child care homes.

Texas Rising Star

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Texas Rising Star is a hybrid statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System that was most recently revised in 2021. Texas Rising Star certified providers offer quality care that exceed the state’s Child Care Regulation Minimum Standards in four categories: 1) Director and Staff Qualifications, 2) Teacher-Child Interactions, 3) Program Administration, and 4) Indoor/Outdoor Learning Environments. Texas Rising Star certified early learning programs may obtain a progressively higher level as follows: Two-Star, Three-Star, and Four-Star certification. More information about the Texas Rising Star program may be found by visiting the program’s website:

Utah's Child Care Quality System (CCQS)

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Utah's Child Care Quality System is a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System. The system is mandatory for licensed child care programs that receive federal child care subsidies and voluntary for licensed child care programs that do not receive federal child care subsidies. A program that receives a subsidy and has a license in good standing will be assigned a Default Foundation of Quality rating unless they submit an application for a certified quality rating. The system uses a hybrid block and point rating structure that allows programs to receive one of four certified quality ratings. Programs are rated on five domains of quality: 1) Health and Safety, 2) Learning Environments, 3) Leadership and Professional Development, 4) Management and Administration, and 5) National Accreditation.

Step Ahead Recognition System (STARS)

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Vermont's statewide Step Ahead Recognition System (STARS) began in 2004 and comprises five levels. STARS underwent a significant revision in 2023, and the new STARS measures early childhood and afterschool program quality by demonstrating five increasing levels of achievement. Each STARS level contains standards that programs must meet to demonstrate achievement of that level of quality. All regulated programs in good standing with licensure are automatic participants in the STARS system and receive STARS level 1 status. Programs with STARS levels 2, 3, 4, or 5 have demonstrated the intent to go beyond the standards of licensure, and STARS acknowledges them for their quality. STARS is informed by the unique culture and identity of quality practices in Vermont’s early childhood and afterschool programs and offers equitable opportunities for programs and providers to engage in the system. The current STARS model focuses Vermont's efforts more closely on positive outcomes for children, family engagement, and support of early childhood and afterschool programs.

The Unified Virginia Quality Birth to Five System (VQB5)

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To prepare all children for kindergarten, Virginia’s early childhood system must ensure that all children have quality teaching and learning experiences that meet their unique needs. In response to state law, Virginia has developed the Unified Virginia Quality Birth to Five System (VQB5) to measure and help improve the quality of all publicly-funded birth-to-five classrooms and support families to choose quality programming across program types. VQB5 recognizes the impact of every classroom, provides feedback to every educator, and supports all publicly-funded birth-to-five programs to improve. VQB5 sets shared expectations for measuring quality and supporting teachers for all birth-to-five programs. Through VQB5, teachers and leaders will receive the feedback and support they need to help young children learn.

Early Achievers

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Early Achievers is Washington's statewide Quality Recognition and Improvement System. It began in 2012 and has five levels that are arranged in a hybrid rating structure. Eligible programs include licensed or certified center-based and family child care facilities, as well as Head Start and Washington's state Pre-K programs. All Early Achievers participants engage in a continuous quality improvement journey. Programs receive support in five Quality Standard areas. These areas provide a common set of best practices to recognize, support, and improve the quality of early learning programs. They are the basis for the facility's quality levels. Programs receive recognition points for each of the standard areas during a quality recognition cycle, and may earn specialization areas that highlight your program’s strengths. The Quality Standard areas are: 1) Learning Environment, 2) Child Outcomes, 3) Interactions and Curriculum, 4) Family Engagement and Partnership, 5) Professional Development and Training, and 6) Accreditation. Early learning programs are recognized at quality levels as they work through the components and supports made available through Early Achievers. All licensed programs have already met Level 1, Foundational Quality Standards for Early Learning programs by becoming licensed. They can move through Levels 2 through 5 by earning additional points and working through the Quality Recognition Cycle. A Quality Recognition Cycle is a 3-year cycle of continuous quality improvement; each component is designed to build upon the other. Programs earn points throughout the cycle by submitting components for review and feedback. Throughout the cycle, sites are supported with coaching services.

West Virginia does not have a formal QRIS but does have a Quality Tiered Reimbursement System which consists of 3 Tier levels. Licensed center-based programs, and regulated family child care facilities and homes are automatically enrolled as a Tier I site. Participation at higher quality tier levels is voluntary. To advance to a higher tier, the program must enroll children who receive subsidy funding. Programs at a Tier II quality level must demonstrate they meet a state specific set of standards which align with West Virginia’s Core Knowledge and Competencies in the areas of: 1. Child Growth and Development; 2. Family and Community Relationships; 3. Child Observation and Assessment; 4. Environment and Curriculum Knowledge Area; 5. Health Safety and Nutrition; 6. Professionalism and Leadership; and 7. Administration and Management. West Virginia currently has a network of six Quality Improvement Specialists statewide employed by the Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies who provide technical assistance to Program Directors interested in advancing their quality tier level. Tier II applications are reviewed and evaluated for compliance by the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Early Care and Education. Programs at a Tier III quality level hold a national accreditation from NAEYC, COA or NAFCC. Currently there are no additional requirements for Tier III quality programs other than accreditation. The current system is undergoing revisions with a goal to have a fully implemented QRIS by January 2025.


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Wisconsin's YoungStar is a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) that began in 2010. It is composed of five star-rating levels that are arranged in a block rating structure. Regulated (licensed, certified, license-exempt) center-based, school-age, day camp, and family child care programs can apply and are rated on 1) Education and Training Qualifications, 2) Learning Environment and Curriculum, 3) Business and Professional Practices, 4) Health and Well-Being Practices and 5) High-Quality Practices

Strong Minds (Palm Beach County)

Strong Minds is a voluntary quality rating improvement system that promotes high quality in early care and education programs. The goal of Strong Minds is to ensure all children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. Strong Minds focuses on 1) Improving children’s learning and development, 2) improving adult-child interactions, and 3) increasing family engagement in children’s learning and development. Strong Minds recognizes program directors and family child care home operators as the leaders and change agents for their programs. Strong Minds is designed to support higher quality programs in their continuous quality improvement efforts by making a variety of supports available to them. Palm Beach County's QRIS came to an end in 2023.

Links to Quality (L2Q) is the developing QRIS system in Kansas. The system is being designed to recognize and develop quality in early childcare providers. The foundational links of L2Q will be 1. Program Administration, 2. Family Partnerships, 3. Learning and Development, and 4. Health and Safety. As L2Q progresses, additional links with be created to encourage the continuous quality improvement process. Each area of recognition contains benchmarks and standards participating providers must meet to achieve the corresponding Quality Recognition Link. These benchmarks will be documented through submitted portfolios in each area. A pilot of the L2Q program ran from April of 2018 through April of 2020. It included approximately 40 providers across 17 counties organized into five learning communities. Upon completion of the pilot, due to COVID-19, L2Q shifted its focus to a response phase. Plans are currently in development for a full statewide implementation of the L2Q program in Spring of 2023. Kansas's description was last updated in 2021.

In 2013, the Office of Child Care and Regulatory Services (OCCRS) within the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Human Services implemented a pilot of its Quality Rating and Improvement System known as VI Steps to Quality (VIS2Q). The VIS2Q pilot was a block rating system with five “steps” and was implemented with 24 programs and included five Head Start programs. The pilot was not expanded beyond the original programs. As of 2023, the USVI is currently developing a Quality Improvement System to replace VIS2Q that will allow facilities across the territory to highlight the quality early childhood practices they have demonstrated.