The Four Key Areas
of a quality early childhood program

QUALITYstarsNY uses four key areas to judge the quality of an early childhood program. These areas fit together to form a nurturing and exciting place for children to play, learn and grow.

View a More in-Depth Overview of the Standards


Learning environment:

The space where children play, learn and grow. In a quality program, spaces are clean and inviting. Children look happy and busy. Equipment, materials and planned activities stimulate learning. Adults are listening to, talking with (not at), and enjoying interacting with children.


Management & leadership:

The support of all parts of an early childhood program that make it possible for staff and families to focus on the children. In a quality program, the leadership sets the vision and establishes policies to make sure that the program functions properly.


Staff qualifications & experience:

The educational backgrounds and previous experiences that staff bring to their work. In a quality program, staff have strong backgrounds in child development and early education and respond to children’s needs to enrich their learning. Parent


Family engagement:

The way that program staff work with families to advance children’s learning and development. In a quality program, families and staff work as partners. Family members feel respected, welcomed, and invited to participate in decisions that affect their child.