PERSPECTIVES WINTER 2016 | State Debuts New Ratings for Early-Years Programs
State Debuts New Ratings for Early-Years Programs
Kentucky launched a new five-star tiered quality rating and improvement system in July for all early care and education programs that receive public funding.
The new system, known as Kentucky All STARS, is designed to recognize public preschool, child care centers, and Head Start programs for continuous quality improvement. It is also de- signed to give parents clear information to make better decisions for their children.
Research on early care and education shows that high-quality care and learning in the early years improves kindergarten readiness, with the highest impacts on the most vulnerable young children.
Kentucky All STARS is the latest evolution of Kentucky’s approach to foster high-quality early care and learning environments. The Commonwealth’s first voluntary quality rating system for child care centers began in 2000 with STARS for KIDS Now. Historically, the state has seen participation of about 30-40 percent of licensed programs.
Funding and support for the new system comes from the state’s $44.3 million Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge grant. For the first time, the rating system will include unified standards of quality that can apply to programs based in public schools as well as child care centers. House Bill 234, approved by Kentucky lawmakers in 2015, requires participation from all centers that receive public funding.