QUALITYstarsNY is New York's early childhood quality rating and improvement system. Since its inception, QUALITYstarsNY has focused its evidence-based practices on closing the achievement gap and ensuring high quality educational opportunities for all of New York's youngest learners. Through a combination of assessment, coaching, professional development, and a wide range of resources, QUALITYstarsNY supports early childhood programs to provide the best possible care for children from birth to age five.
QUALITYstarsNY is a project of the Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC), whose mission is to provide strategic direction and advice to the State of New York on early childhood issues. By monitoring and guiding the implementation of a range of strategies including QUALITYstarsNY, the ECAC supports New York in building a comprehensive and sustainable early childhood system that will ensure success for all New York's youngest citizens.
The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (PDI) coordinates the many different administrative aspects of QUALITYstarsNY. The Institute manages staff and subcontractors that contribute to the various project processes including assessment, ratings, and quality improvements.
QUALITYstarsNY is funded with a combination of federal, state, and private funds. Governor Cuomo supports QUALITYstarsNY, with current annual funding of $5M. Through its federal Preschool Expansion grant, New York’s State Education Department has allocated $3.1 million over four years to QUALITYstarsNY. The Office of Children and Family Services supports the professional development efforts of QUALITYstarsNY programs, and the Capital District Child Care Council provides support for participating programs.
Previous funders for QUALITYstarsNY have included the ECAC, the Rauch Foundation, the New York City Council, and the Western New York Women’s Foundation.
Exploration of a Quality Improvement System (QIS) in New York State began in March 2005. The New York State Child Care Coordinating Council, now known as the Early Care and Learning Council (ECLC), with support from several private foundations, convened a group of about 50 diverse stakeholders representing child care, Head Start, prekindergarten providers, professional associations, academics, researchers, business, advocates, state and local government, public education, and child care resource and referral agencies. The committee explored how other states had approached QIS and discussed the opportunities and challenges in developing a QIS in New York.
The committee met several more times in 2005 and 2006 to receive reports and plan next steps. The efforts of the Work Groups fed into the Design Group, which developed a proposal for the program standards and rating scale to be tested with parents, providers and policymakers. The Design Group brought together representatives of different sectors of early care and education with people who had considerable experience working to improve quality at the community level and those who were well-versed in research on quality and child outcomes. During 2007, focus groups were conducted in locations across the state with parents as well as child care center and family child care providers. The focus groups were used to inform small groups of parents and providers about the proposed QIS, to share the draft rating scale that had been developed by the Design Group and to obtain feedback from these critical stakeholders.
The Governor's Children's Cabinet Advisory Committee Subcommittee on Quality agreed in November 2007 that implementation of a QIS would be the focus of its work. The Design Group was reconvened and expanded in January 2008 and successful proposals to several private foundations provided financial support for its work along with in-kind support from the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
A Field Test of the QUALITYstarsNY Standards was conducted in 2010, with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), under the auspices of OCFS and with funding from various private funders.
QUALITYstarsNY is now represented in all ten Empire State Development regions. The number of programs will continue to expand as funding increases. You can find a list of currently participating programs here. Our most recent evaluation shows that QUALITYstarsNY provides the resources and support that programs need to improve quality, with the number of highly-rated programs increasing by 65% over a three-year period.
In addition, QUALITYstarsNY began the Start with Stars initiative in 2017. Start with Stars is a system of supports designed for new early childhood programs, as well as those programs who face licensing challenges. Start with Stars provides targeted, intense, short-term support to help vulnerable programs get ready to participate in QUALITYstarsNY.