The overarching goal of Delaware's Early Childhood Strategic Plan: Sustaining Early Success (2013), and Delaware’s Early Childhood Plan for Early Success (2006) is that all children enter life and school ready to succeed. Access to high quality early learning programs for all of Delaware’s children, with an initial focus on children from low-income families, is an essential component of the plan. Delaware Stars for Early Success quality rating and improvement system establishes quality standards for programs and provides technical assistance and limited financial support to programs involved in Stars as they engage in quality improvement efforts. Delaware Stars is designed as a voluntary system for programs to work on improving quality by moving up the Star Levels. Delaware Stars for Early Success is a five level system, with “5” being the highest rating.
QRIS Name: Delaware Stars for Early Success
Organization: Contract to the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood, University of Delaware, with additional partners to assist with various facets of the Stars initiative
http://www.delawarestars.udel.edu (for professionals)
http://www.greatstartsdelaware.com (for families)
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
Delaware QRIS Part of Early Childhood Education System
Delaware Stars for Early Success is part of the State’s strategic plan for early learning, Sustaining Early Success (2013) and the previous state strategic plan. It began as a public-private partnership between the State (Departments of Education; Health and Social Services; and Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families); The Family & Workplace Connection, a division of Children and Families First; Nemours Health and Prevention Services; and United Way of Delaware Success by 6®. From its inception and with support from the Delaware Early Childhood Council, quality standards were developed with significant input from the early childhood community. Delaware Stars is also seen as a critical part of the overall education system, in part due to Vision 2015, is a collaborative effort by education, government, business, and civic leaders throughout Delaware to provide a world-class public education to every student in the State. The mission and vision of Delaware Stars is aligned with that of Vision 2015. In 2010, the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood at the University of Delaware became the lead implementation partner with the State of Delaware. In 2012, a re-design began moving the system from a building block system to a points system. Additional information is available at http://www.delawarestars.udel.edu/With the redesign and the receipt of the federal resources from the Early Learning Challenge, Delaware embarked on making the QRIS the framework for all of its early learning programs, regardless of who is providing them, and has developed additional strategies to include all types of early childhood programs in this structure, enabling it to serve as the framework for early learning in the State of Delaware.
Quality Assurance and Monitoring
Delaware Alternative Pathway Avoids Duplication of Documentation
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited programs, once accepted into Delaware Stars, must provide a copy of their accreditation and complete the Delaware Stars Orientation specific to NAEYC programs. Once complete, NAEYC programs are designated Star Level 5 and may keep their Star Level by maintaining their accreditation and submitting copies of their annual NAEYC reports to Delaware Stars. NAEYC programs are assigned a Technical Assistant (TA) and are required to submit an annual report to Stars. Head Start and Early Childhood Assistance Programs (ECAP), once accepted into Delaware Stars, must provide a copy of their most recent monitoring report and complete the Delaware Stars Orientation specific to Head Start/ECAP programs. Once complete, programs are designated Star Level 4 and may keep their Star Level by maintaining good standing with Head Start and ECAP monitoring standards and by submitting copies of their annual monitoring reports to Delaware Stars. Programs may choose to maintain at Star Level 4 or move up to a Star Level 5. To achieve Star Level 5, programs must request an ERS assessment and meet the minimum required classroom scores for that level. Programs are eligible for technical assistance when actively working on achieving Star Level 5. The 2012 Program Guide is available at http://www.delawarestars.udel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/DEStarsProgramGuideSeptember2012R.pdf.
Provider Incentives and Support
Awards, Grants and Tiered Reimbursement in Delaware Stars
Delaware Stars for Early Success Quality Improvement Grants, as well as Tiered Reimbursement to participating early childhood education programs.
Grants provide funding support to programs actively working toward the next Star Level. Grants are available based on annual funding allocations. A program may receive a grant once at each Star Level (2, 3, and 4). It must be clear on the Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) and in the grant request that the program is working toward the next Star Level Designation. Evidence must include regularly meeting with the Technical Assistant (TA), progress towards completion of standards, and progress in preparing for a Practice or Verification ERS. Grants must be used for materials and/or professional development to meet the standards in the Quality Improvement Plan. They should be utilized for materials and equipment that will increase the quality of care for children and actively engage them in activities. Grant amounts vary by program type and size. Grants for centers range from $1500 to $3000, for school-age only programs from $500 - $1000 and for family child care from $500 - $1000. Changes are anticipated for 2014.
Tiered reimbursement is available to programs at Star Levels 3, 4 and 5. Programs at Star Level 3 receive an additional state supplemental reimbursement that reflects a total reimbursement of 80% of the market rate, Star Level 4 at 90% and Star Level 5 at 100% of the market rate. Changes are anticipated for 2014.
Additional information is available at http://www.delawarestars.udel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/GrantsAwardsProcedures8.12.2013.pdf
Early Childhood programs participating in Delaware Stars have additional new supports through the Early Learning Challenge:
- CORE Awards (Compensation, Retention and Education Awards) are available to individuals working in Star 3, 4 & 5 programs as they move up the career lattice, remain at their current program and/or are recruited to other programs participating in Stars.
- Developmental screening and child formative assessment is offered to Stars programs, including free training, technical assistance, materials and online reporting. In 2014, additional supports for curriculum are being incorporated into this strategy.
- Early Learning Leadership Initiative (ELLI) is working with individuals in leadership positions or potential leaders, in Stars programs, and providing them with free professional development in leadership, a nine-credit series developed by the McCormick Early Childhood Center, Aim4Excellence Credential.
- Infrastructure grants for technological and capital improvements related to their quality improvement goals through Stars.
Delaware Family Friendly Website and Stakeholder E-News
Delaware’s created a new family-friendly website, address below. This website includes a wealth of information for parents on topics including the Delaware Stars program, why quality matters, early brain development, and early learning at home. As part of the effort to drive families to the website as well as Facebook and Twitter, the Office of Early Learning recently ran a promotion through a contest that invited the public to visit the website, like their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter. A simple sign-up entered participants in a weekly random drawing for a family fun pack, where they could win gift cards to movies, bowling, activity centers or museums, with multiple winners in each county. In just the first 5 weeks, more than 150 people entered and more than 40 family fun packs were awarded. In one month, traffic to the website more than doubled—with 5000 unique visitors during the campaign. In addition, the Office of Early Learning publishes a monthly electronic newsletter for a variety of audiences including providers and parents. Content includes the names of programs awarded 3, 4, or 5 stars, updates on Delaware’s early childhood work, practice tips using the Delaware Early Learning Foundations (state early learning guidelines), profiles of local leaders in ECE, and summaries of recent policy and research trends. Early Childhood programs participating in Delaware Stars receive marketing materials to help them communicate with the families they serve and those they hope to serve in the future and the Office of Early Learning has created a promotional guide for them along with an ever-green calendar with activities to spur understanding and support for Stars that families can engage in the program.