The Tennessee Child Care Report Card and Star-Quality Program

Background information

In 2000 and 2001, Tennessee launched a broad program to improve child care. This program’s goals are to give more information to parents and to improve the quality of child care in the state. This child care quality improvement system includes two programs: the Child Care Report Card Evaluation Program and the Star-Quality Child Care Program.

The Child Care Report Card Evaluation is required for all licensed child care agencies in Tennessee. During the process of renewing a license, the State evaluates an agency on several areas of quality. Family and Group homes are evaluated on 6 areas and Child Care Centers on 8 areas. To learn more about this program, please read the Factsheet.

The Star-Quality Child Care Program, unlike the report card program, is voluntary. This program recognizes child care agencies who meet higher standards of quality. Once qualified for this program, agencies can receive one, two, or three stars on their report card. Each star shows that an agency meets increasingly higher standards. In other words, the more stars an agency achieves, the better the quality of care it offers to children. [Read more about the Star-Quality Program.]

Both programs require a program assessment. This part of the licensing process is required for both Child Care Centers and for Family and Group Child Care Homes. An assessment (an on-site observation by a highly trained Assessor) evaluates many aspects of an agency’s program related to child outcomes and child development. For example, it evaluates the interactions between the children and staff (to be sure that it is appropriate for the age of the children). It also examines the layout and use of space and rooms and looks at health and safety practices. It even makes sure that the program includes age-appropriate science, math, language, music, and art activities. For more information about assessments, see the All About Program Assessments page.

About Report Cards

When a child care agency receives its yearly license from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS), it will receive a report card showing how it rated in specific areas and overall. (See the TDHS site for example report cards.) Agencies must post the report card for parents and visitors to see.

Agencies who participate in the Star-Quality Child Care Program get a Star-Quality Report Card. It is more detailed than a regular one. The Star Report Card lists every criteria that applies to the agency’s program and the rating it earned in each one. It also shows the overall star rating — 1, 2, or 3 stars. This Star-Quality Report Card lets parents know that the agency qualified for and is participating in the Star-Quality Care Program.

For more information about report cards, you can read the Tennessee Evaluation and Report Card program fact sheet [PDF] and the Star-Quality program fact sheet [PDF].

Program Updates

August 1, 2018, marked the beginning of program year 18 for the Tennessee Child Care Report Card and Star-Quality Program. The start of a new program year is time for changes and updates. It is also the desired time for updates to the Tennessee Additional Notes for Clarification for program assessments to be made so that all partners in the child care quality improvement program proceed in collaboration and child care agencies will be assessed consistently across the state. Click here to read the most recently updated additional notes.