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This report shows the count and percent of child care, preschool, and after school programs participating in STARS by rating and geography. 

The STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) is Vermont’s voluntary quality recognition and improvement system for child care, preschool, and after school programs. The STARS system is overseen by the Agency of Human Services, Department for Children and Families. It recognizes quality achievements using a one star to five stars scale. Across the country, states are using quality ratings and improvement strategies to measure and elevate the quality of care, education and to support and improve children’s development (BUILD QRIS National Network, 2016). Research on the quality of early care and education has continued to demonstrate the significant impact on children’s improved cognitive, academic, and social skills; in order to promote positive child outcomes. In particular, the benefits are greater for vulnerable children (Tout et al., 2015). This report displays the star ratings for the state, counties, Agency of Human Services districts, school supervisory unions and districts as well as towns from 2007 to present.

The STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) is Vermont’s quality recognition system for child care, preschool, and afterschool programs. Launched in 2003 by the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF), STARS is overseen by the Child Development Division (CDD). Participating programs include registered and licensed family child care homes, licensed early childhood, preschool, Head Start, afterschool programs. All participating programs are going beyond state regulations to provide professional services that meet the needs of children and families. 

See the CDD website for additional information about STARS.

The STARS dataset was exported from the Bright Futures Information System at the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) as a text (.txt) file. Vermont Insights converted the .txt file into a comma separated value (.csv) file and imported it into SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Science) for ‘data scrubbing’ and structural analysis prior to integration into Vermont Insights. Some of the ‘data scrubbing’ procedures used before integration into Vermont Insights included:

  • Cases with an assigned license type of ‘Legally Exempt’ were removed from the dataset. The only valid values remaining for this variable were ‘Licensed Provider’ and ‘Registered Home’.
  • Cases with a license status of ‘Intent to Revoke,’ ‘Revoked,’ ‘Suspended,’ and ‘Withdrawn’ were removed from the dataset, leaving ‘Licensed’ and ‘Expired’ as the only license statuses for all cases.
  • Cases with a town assignment of ‘Out of State’ were excluded.
  • Cases with no STARS tier-level assignments were coded as ‘Not Rated.’
  • Cases where the provider name contained the word ‘duplicate’ for a given month/year were flagged and removed so only one primary case for the entry resulted. These flagged cases represented double or multiple entries for the same case in the STARS system.
  • Cases were further de-duplicated by the unique provider ID and month/year for each entry so only one primary case existed for each provider by month/year.

The percent of providers by license or program type and STARS-level for each geography was calculated using the following formula:

([Sum of Providers for the License or Program Type and STARS-level for the Geography] / [Total Providers for the Geography]) * 100

While the participation of regulated programs in STARS has risen dramatically from 2007 to 2015 (10.8% to 69.7%), it is a voluntary program and does not include all regulated programs. It does not include non-regulated child care.

Licensing and STARS regulations are revised periodically, which may results in changes in the data such as definition.

Data on programs represents the status of the program as of the end of that month or period, and is not a current (as of that date) listing of all programs participating in STARS.