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QRIS Resource Guide


The Qualistar Rating System is a tool to measure quality in licensed center and family child care homes and preschool programs for children from birth to kindergarten. The Qualistar Rating System evaluates programs in five areas: (1) learning environment, (2) family partnerships, (3) training and education, (4) adult-to-child ratios, and (5) accreditation. It also assigns a rating of one to four stars to each program.

Colorado Contacts

QRIS Name: Qualistar Rating System

Organization: Qualistar Colorado

Web Site:

QRIS State Profile

This profile is from the QRIS Compendium—a comprehensive resource for information about all of the QRIS operating in the U.S. and its Territories. It was developed by a partnership of the BUILD Initiative, the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, and Child Trends.

QRIS Resource Guide Examples

Initial Design Process

Colorado Creates New Vision for Revised QRIS

When Colorado initiated an inclusive planning process for the next generation of their QRIS, they began with the development of a vision statement, goals, and guiding values.

Vision Statement

To develop a Quality Rating and Improvement System that is inclusive, accessible, and available to all providers, is embedded in licensing, and is reflective of evidence-based practices for successful outcomes for all children and families.

What are the goals?

  • To make QRIS available and affordable for all early learning and school-age programs
  • To improve the quality of early learning and school-age programs
  • To include centers, family child care homes, preschool and school-age programs
  • To change Child Care Licensing regulations to reflect higher quality standards
  • To develop a rated license in Colorado

 What are the guiding values?

  • Every child deserves quality
  • Quality begins at Level One
  • Input from all interested stakeholders is valued
  • Rating levels are only part of the conversation
  • The aspects of quality represented at each rating level will be based on practices that support positive child outcomes
  • Status quo is not an option—this is a continuous improvement process.

Additional information is available at!qris/c6ch

Colorado Develops Next Generation QRIS

In 2010, Colorado leaders began the process to develop a new QRIS that was inclusive, accessible, and available to all providers, embedded in licensing, and reflective of evidence-based practices for successful outcomes for all children and families.  The Governance Infrastructure committee acted as the steering committee while four work groups (Standards and Accountability; Provider Support and Financial Incentives, Financing and Sustainability; and Marketing and Outreach) were charged with making recommendations that were submitted to the Department of Human Services for review and approval.

Throughout the planning process, a Web site provided updates and encouraged visitors to submit comments or email questions.  Results of a survey completed by 334 licensed providers were also posted on the Web site, and additional surveys throughout the process were planned.  Information updates were sent to various statewide organizational newsletters and presented at conferences and meetings throughout the State. The participants in the four Work Groups and Governance Infrastructure committee developed a set of recommendations in 2010.  Most of the stakeholders engaged during 2010 in the Work Groups and Governance Infrastructure Committee continued their participation in 2011 and 2012 under the Design Team.  Phase II of the planning process began in March 2011 with the first priority to fully develop the Standards, followed by developing plans for Provider Supports and Financial Incentives and Financing and Sustainability.  This work continued through 2012 under the Design Team, with assistance of national experts and a contractor, Oldham Innovative Research. In 2013 the focus shifted to implementation planning. Additional information is available at!qris/c5ch.

Consumer Education

Colorado Helps Parents Use QRIS Ratings to Choose a Program

Colorado's Qualistar Early Learning Web site allows parents to view Qualistar-rated early childhood programs’ Early Learning Report, a summary that describes how the program scored in each of the five quality components of the Qualistar rating as well as the overall star rating.  The five components include learning environment, family partnerships, training and education, adulto to child rations and group size, and accreditation.  A parent resource, “Working Your Way Through the Child Care Maze” provides information about choosing quality child care and more details on understanding the Quality Rating and Improvement System and the components listed above. More information on Qualistar can be found at Denver parents that are seeking a preschool program for their 4-year old can search for providers by star level and location and read a program description at