The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program is a voluntary quality rating improvement system that aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and early childhood professionals. The program is currently in a field test, with 101 programs participating.
QRIS Name: Star Quality Child Care Rating System/ Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Field Test
Organization: Early Childhood Services Bureau, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Web Site: Best Beginnings STARS to Quality, http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/bestbeginningsstarstoquality.shtml
A field test is currently underway.
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
Approaches to Implementation
Redesigning Montana's QRIS for Expansion
Montana’s Star Quality Child Care Rating System has been operating since 2002; an inclusive and broad-based participatory review began in late 2007. The Stars redesign process has become the State’s strategic plan for all early care and education, not just subsidized child care. The goal is to have the professional development and infrastructure support to help providers increase quality, whether or not they are formally enrolled in Stars. The field test of the new system began in June 2010. In May 2012, at a STARS event for directors, there was a unanimous vote to extend the field test. The Early Childhood Services Bureau received additional unexpected funding in early 2013 which allowed for the planning and implementation of a Phase II for the field test. There have been updates to both the center matrix and the family/group matrix for Phase II. All changes and updates came about directly from provider and coach feedback, as well as information and data gathered by the Early Childhood Services Bureau (ECSB).The original Star Quality system had three levels: licensing, one level above licensing, and national accreditation (National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Association for Family Child Care, Council on Accreditation). The redesign focused on adding gradual steps and increasing supports to encourage participation. The new Best Beginnings STARS to Quality system has five levels and includes the following:
Research based criteria
Workforce support through the Montana Early Care and Education Career Path, encouraging professional development along a continuum of training
Maintaining quality over time; renewal based on validation of Level and program improvement plan
Monetary Incentives for continual program improvement based on Level achieved
Resources and support to move through the Levels provided by Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the Early Childhood Project, and other state-determined resources.
Program Assessment Tools are incorporated including the Environmental Rating Scales (ERS) and the Program and Business Administration Scales (PAS and BAS) The Center on Social & Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool (TPOT) and The Pyramid Infant Toddler Observation Scale (TPITOS) scale are part of the coaching experience for programs using the Pyramid Model.
Information about the new STARS to Quality system is available at http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/bestbeginningsstarstoquality.shtml.
Provider Incentives and Support
Integrating Professional Development Into the QRIS in Montana
Montana has long supported professional development with an early and school-age care and education practitioner registry, and specific educational certificates and support for attaining them, including scholarships and several forms of merit pay. In the Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program, management for all professional development services will be located in one entity, the Montana Early Childhood Project (ECP), making it a one-stop shop for practitioners. All professional development is tied to the early childhood knowledge base, and financial support rewards certificates and college-level coursework. These included the Practitioner Registry Achievement and Renewal Awards, as well as Professional Development Incentive Awards and scholarships for CDA Assessment, and accreditation through NAEYC or NAFCC. Additional information is available at http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/bestbeginningsstarstoquality.shtml and http://www.mtecp.org/.