Montana

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

Montana’s QRIS Redesigned for Expansion

Montana’s Star Quality Child Care Rating System started operating in 2002; an inclusive and broad-based participatory review began in late 2007. The Stars redesign process became the state’s strategic plan for all early care and education, not just subsidized child care. The goal was to have the professional development and infrastructure support to help providers increase quality whether they were formally enrolled in Stars or not. 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 (ECSB) received additional unexpected funding in early 2013, which allowed planning and implementation of a phase II for the field test. There were updates to both the center matrix and the family and group matrix for phase II. All changes and updates directly resulted from provider and coach feedback, as well as information and data gathered by the ECSB. The original Star Quality system had three levels: licensing, one level above licensing, and national accreditation. The redesign focused on adding gradual steps and increasing supports to encourage participation. The newer Best Beginnings STARS to Quality system had five levels and included 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 and referral agencies, the Early Childhood Project, and other state-determined resources

Programs using the Pyramid Model incorporated the following program assessment tools as part of their coaching experience: Environment Rating Scales (ERS), Program and Business Administration Scales (PAS and BAS), Center on Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL), Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool (TPOT), and Pyramid Infant Toddler Observation Scale (TPITOS).

Provider Incentives and Support

Professional Development Integrated 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 Best Beginnings STARS to Quality, management for all professional development services were located in one entity, the Montana Early Childhood Project (ECP), making it a one-stop shop for practitioners. All professional development was tied to the early childhood knowledge base, and financial support rewarded certificates and college-level coursework. These included the Practitioner Registry Achievement and Renewal Awards, Professional Development Incentive Awards and scholarships for Child Development Associate assessment, and accreditation through National Association for the Education of Young Children or National Association for Family Child Care.