The Tennessee Star-Quality Child Care Program

Background Information

In 2000 and 2001, Tennessee launched a broad program to improve child care and to give parents more information about the quality of care their children receive in Tennessee’s Licensed Child Care. The Star-Quality Program is part of this broad program. Unlike the Child Care Report Card Evaluation Program (read more here), the Star-Quality Child Care Program is voluntary.

Star-Quality recognizes child care agencies meeting a higher standard of quality. Once qualified for this program, a child care agency can achieve one, two, or three stars on their child care Report Card. Each star shows that the child care agency meets increasingly higher standards. In other words, the more stars an agency achieves, the better the quality of care it offers to children.

How to Participate

During the licensing renewal process, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) Licensing Program Evaluator determines whether an agency qualifies for the Star-Quality program. Participation is voluntary. If the agency qualifies, the Licensing Program Evaluator will automatically enroll the agency in the program. No further evaluation or on-site visits will be done. An agency’s existing evaluation will be used to calculate the number of stars achieved.

Once you are enrolled, you licensed agency will receive a Star-Quality Report Card. It will have your overall rating printed on it. It will also show how many stars were achieved for each of the 6 or 8 areas of evaluation and how many stars achieved overall. The Star-Quality Report Card shows the public how many stars the licensed child care agency achieved.

For more information about how you can qualify, please read the Fact Sheet on the Star-Quality Child Care Program [PDF]. If you still have other questions, contact your local TDHS licensing office.

Qualifying for the Star-Quality Program

A TDHS Licensing Program Evaluator determines whether an agency qualifies to participate in this program as part of the agency’s regular licensing evaluation. From information agencies are required to provide for the licensing evaluation, the Licensing Program Evaluator determines:

  1. A rating for each of the areas on which you were evaluated.
  2. An overall rating — 1, 2, or 3 — for the evaluated child care agency.

If the evaluation shows that a child care program meets all of the following criteria, then the agency is eligible for the Star-Quality Program:

  • The child care agency received at least a 1 in Program Assessment. [AND]
  • The child care agency received an overall rating of at least a 1.

The overall rating is calculated by using this formula:

  • Add up all the component ratings (the rating is each of the 6 or 8 areas of evaluation).
  • Add 2 points to this total if you are accredited by a DHS-recognized accrediting organization.
  • Divide the total for child care centers by 8 or for family or group home child care, divide the total by 6.
  • The result is overall rating.

If your child care agency is eligible for the Star-Quality program, your new Annual License package will include the Star-Quality Report with your ratings on it. If your program is not eligible this year, you can get help making improvements to your program for next year.

Getting Help to Achieve Higher Quality Rating and Earn More Stars

If a child care agency did not qualify for the Star-Quality Program this year or wants to improve program quality and earn more stars next year,  the agency can get help. TDHS offers, technical assistance, and training to help child care agencies achieve higher quality and more stars. Please see the How to Learn More page for links to information about these resources.

For other information that can help you earn more stars, contact your local Tennessee Child Care Resource and Referral directly.

If you would like your agency to be used for practice observations, please refer to the following forms:

Agency Participation in Scale Practice Observations Form

Practice Observation Flyer

Financial Rewards of the Star-Quality Program

More stars show the public your quality of care. They can also mean a higher reimbursement rate for any children served who are in the TDHS Child Care Certificate program. Even one star will raise the reimbursement rate, to 5% above the base. The more stars the agency achieves, the better the reimbursement rate for your children who are in the Certificate program. These financial rewards are good reason to participate in the Star-Quality Program. But more importantly, they also provide incentive to work continually to improve quality of child care. In the end, parents, child care agencies, and the state all have the same goal: safe, healthy children who are better prepared for school and life.