Skip over navigation
NY.gov Portal State Agency Listing
Early Childhood Banner
Promoting Professional Development and High Quality Early Childhood and School-Age Programmes
 Council on Children and Families
 Deborah Benson, Executive Director

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)?
What is the history of QRIS in New York?
How will Center-based Programs (schools and centers) be rated?
How will Family-based Programs (family and group family child care) be rated?
What will the application process be?
What are the program, provider, and staff supports for quality improvement?
What are the financial benefits of Quality Stars NY?
What is the grievance process?
How will Quality Stars NY intersect with licensing?
How will Quality Stars NY benefit my early care and education (ECE) program?
Will it cost anything for child care programs or providers to participate in Quality Stars NY?
Are other states implementing QRIS?
Who will be eligible to participate in Quality Stars NY?
How will parents be notified of Quality Stars NY star ratings?
What information will parents receive about each program?
Will I have an opportunity to comment on the Quality Stars NY standards or to ask other questions?
Will there be differences by county?
What will be explored through the Field Test?

What is a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)?

For a growing number of states and localities, the vehicle for improving quality across the full continuum of early care and education programming is to create a uniform set of standards that is graduated according to level of quality, and linked to a corresponding set of "star ratings," not unlike those established for hotels and restaurants.

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) assess, improve, and communicate the quality of all types of early childhood programs. QRIS have graduated sets of program standards that provide a pathway, or stair steps, for programs to improve overall quality and offer consumers objective information about the relative quality of programs for their children. QRIS provide supports to improve the qualifications of practitioners and the quality of programs, including financial incentives linked to the levels of ratings. QRIS also offer financial incentives to consumers linked to the levels of quality. QRIS is a policy innovation that is rapidly sweeping the country. Since the first one in Oklahoma in 1998, 17 states now operate statewide QRIS, and at least 30 other states are planning or piloting them. The first Quality Rating and Improvement System was launched in Oklahoma in 1998 and other states followed quickly, making this a fast-moving policy trend. Several states in the planning stages have begun to call their systems QRIS to recognize the two major purposes: improvement and rating.

QRIS empowers parents to become savvy consumers and choose high quality for their children; enables policymakers to implement policies proven to improve quality; promotes accountability so donors, legislators and tax payers feel confident investing in quality; gives providers a roadmap to quality improvement; and improves the chances of a child attending a high-quality early care and education program. A QRIS affects the early care and education market through three major avenues.

  1. Quality assurance. All QRISs have progressive quality standards based on research and best practice, with monitoring and assessment. Usually there are three to five quality levels.
  2. Supply side interventions. Supports are provided for programs such as technical assistance on conducting self-assessments and developing quality improvement plans. Professional development is offered to personnel to enhance their knowledge and skills and increase educational qualifications. Financial incentives are offered to providers to encourage improvement and significant ongoing financial awards help to maintain higher quality.
  3. Demand side interventions. All QRISs use easy to understand symbols for the ratings, usually multiple stars. The star ratings of programs are publicly available and financial incentives are offered to reward consumers who choose higher quality.

QRIS are in many ways similar among states. Recognizing that staff qualifications are the strongest predictor of program quality and child outcomes, all 17 states include staff qualifications and professional development as essential standards. All states but one include national accreditation (only North Carolina does not). All states include center-based programs; nearly all include Head Start, school-age programs and family-based programs. Several include state-funded prekindergarten programs. Interestingly, only one state has a QRIS that is truly mandatory (Tennessee); North Carolina’s is effectively mandatory since it is a rated license; all the rest are voluntary.

[back to top]

What is the history of QRIS in New York?

Exploration of a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) in New York State began in March 2005. The New York State Child Care Coordinating Council (NYSCCCC), with support from several private foundations, convened a group of about 50 diverse stakeholders representing child care, Head Start and 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 QRIS, discussed the opportunities and challenges in developing a QRIS in NYS and created work groups to delve deeper into four key areas: Quality Rating Scale and Assessment, Provider Support, Consumer Information and Financing the System.

The full 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 key elements of a 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 QRIS, to share the draft rating scale that had been developed by the Design Group and to obtain feedback from these critical stakeholders.

In the run-up to the November 2006 election, Winning Beginning NY (WBNY), the statewide early care and education coalition, adopted the implementation of a QRIS as a key component of its advocacy agenda. WBNY began an engagement process with gubernatorial candidates and other elected officials, sending them a copy of a briefing paper and meeting, when possible, with key individuals. Following the election, WBNY began meeting with members of the new administration to share information and advocate for the QRIS.

In September 2007, Gladys Carrión, Commissioner for the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) committed to the establishment of a QRIS in New York State. The Governor’s Children’s Cabinet Advisory Committee Subcommittee on Quality agreed in November 2007 that implementation of a QRIS would be the focus of its work. The Subcommittee on Quality is co-chaired by Janice Molnar, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Child Care Services at OCFS. In late 2007, the OCFS took on the leadership of the QRIS effort. The Design Group was reconvened and expanded in January 2008 and successful proposals to several private foundations have provided financial support for its work along with in-kind support from the OCFS. The current plan is to field-test the QRIS in 2008-2009 and implement statewide in 2009-2010 with centers, schools and family-based programs. Standards and procedures for school-age programs will be developed and implemented soon thereafter.

[back to top]

How will Center-based Programs (schools and centers) be rated?

The rating will be determined using a point system. Applicants determine the number of points they are able to obtain in each of the four categories, based on the program practices and achievements they are able to verify with supporting documentation. The maximum points in each category are:

Learning Environment 25
Family Engagement 15
Qualifications and Experience 35
Leadership and Management 25
Total 100

Click here for the Center-based Standards

Click here to take the Quality Stars NY Feedback Suvery for Center-based Programs.
You may opt-in to our mailing list at the end of the survey.

Points are totaled across all four categories. At least 5% of the total (5 points) must be earned in each category. Programs can achieve up to 100 points. The total number of points obtained determines how many stars the program has earned.

Regulated program *
20 - 25 points **
26 - 50 points ***
76 - 100 points ****

Accredited and other qualifying programs.

Programs that have been in operation for at least 5 years and are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (2006 NAEYC standards) receive Five Stars upon submitting a brief application with documentation of accreditation. There will be a streamlined application process for these programs.

[back to top]

How will Family-based programs (family and group family child care) be rated?

The rating for a family-based program will be determined using a point system. Applicants determine the number of points they are able to obtain in each of the four categories, based on the program practices and achievements they are able to verify with supporting documentation. The maximum points in each category are:

Learning Environment 25
Family Engagement 15
Qualifications and Experience 35
Leadership and Management 25
Total 100

Click here for the Family-based Standards

Click here to take the Quality Stars NY Feedback Survey for Family-based Programs.
You may opt-in to our mailing list at the end of the survey.

Points are totaled across all four categories. At least 5% of the total (5 points) must be earned in each category. Programs can achieve up to 100 points. The total number of points obtained determines how many stars the program earns.

Regulated program *
20 - 25 points **
26 - 50 points ***
76 - 100 points ****

Nationally Accredited Providers (NAFCC)

Providers who have been in business continuously for at least 5 years and are accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) automatically earn the maximum number of points in the categories of Learning Environment, Family Engagement, and Leadership and Management (65 points, which is the 4 star level). These providers then document the number of points they are able to obtain in the Qualifications and Experience category and add that number to the previous points (65). The final total determines the family child care provider’s overall rating.

[back to top]

What will the application process be?

Any program or provider that is regulated by the state of New York or the City of New York will be able to request a One Star rating by completing a simple application. Programs or providers that wish to advance beyond One Star will assess their program and submit an application [to be developed] with accompanying documentation. Multi-site programs will submit a separate application for each separately licensed site.

The Quality Stars NY application is currently being developed and is not available at this time. If you would like to be notified when the application becomes available and also receive other updates as Quality Stars NY progresses, please click here to join our mailing list.

Programs that desire to earn points in the Learning Environment category will undergo an Environment Rating Scale assessment conducted by a reliable outside observer. All assessors will be trained and reliable; the assessment will be offered free of charge. There will likely be some limitations on the frequency, such as only one free assessment can be requested per year. The Environment Rating Scales are a set of four program quality assessment tools developed at the Frank Porter Graham Center at the University of North Carolina. Three of the four have been revised; the revised editions of these are now the standard.

The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R) is for programs with children 2½ through age five. It contains 43 items organized into 7 subscales:

  1. Space and Furnishings
  2. Personal Care Routines
  3. Language-Reasoning
  4. Activities
  5. Interactions
  6. Program Structure
  7. Parents and Staff

The Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS-R) is for centers with infants and toddlers up to 30 months old. It contains 39 items organized into the same 7 subscales, except the Language-Reasoning subscale is replaced by Listening and Talking.

The Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS-R) is for family-based programs with infants through school-aged children. It contains 37 items organized into the same 7 subscales except Language-Reasoning is replaced by Listening and Talking and the subscale Parents and Staff is replaced by Parents and Provider.

The fourth tool, School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale (SACERS) is for group programs for children aged 5-12 years.

For more information on these scales, see http://www.fpg.unc.edu/~ecers/

[back to top]

What are the program, provider, and staff supports for quality improvement?

The expectation of the designers of Quality Stars NY is that specific training, professional development, technical assistance and other supports for quality improvement will be available to programs that want to access these supports. These will include introductory trainings on the ERS, introductory workshops on Quality Stars NY, among other offerings. More information will come as the system is designed.

[back to top]

What are the financial benefits of Quality Stars NY?

The expectation of the designers of Quality Stars NY is that existing financial supports for quality will be reviewed, revised and re-allocated to provide financial incentives for programs at various levels of quality and that expansion of financial supports will also be advocated. In addition to financial supports for programs, we expect to consider establishing financial incentives for consumers, such as by improving the NYS child and dependent care tax credit to recognize quality. More information will come as the system is designed. To see what other states' QRIS offer, click here.

[back to top]

What is the grievance process?

A grievance procedure will be developed after the New York Quality Stars NY is field-tested.

[back to top]

How will Quality Stars NY intersect with licensing?

Programs that have met the New York State or New York City licensing requirements applicable to their program setting will receive a one-star rating by submitting a simple application (to be designed). Quality Stars NY will be open to any early care and education program that is regulated by a public agency.

[back to top]

How will Quality Stars NY benefit my early care and education (ECE) program?

Participating in Quality Stars NY will help your ECE program elevate and maintain the quality of services you provide and will also enable your program to receive supportive services and financial resources. Programs that participate in Quality Stars NY will be eligible for targeted technical assistance (on topics such as conducting self-assessments, participating in an Environmental Rating Scale (ERS), developing quality improvement plans, and so forth) as well as professional development opportunities for your staff. Although these are tough economic times and nothing is certain, we hope to secure funding to make additional financial supports available to participating programs, and are encouraging our funding partners to join us in this effort. Also, we anticipate that when star ratings of programs are publicly available, consumers will have the information they need to choose higher quality services.

[back to top]

Will it cost anything for child care programs or providers to participate in Quality Stars NY?

There will be no cost to secure a rating. While improving quality frequently increases costs, our intention is to make financial supports available to help offset those costs.

[back to top]

Are other states implementing QRIS?

As of January 2008, the following 17 states/districts are operating statewide Quality Rating & Improvement Systems. (The first QRIS was implemented in Oklahoma in 1998.)

Colorado New Hampshire
District of Columbia New Mexico
Illinois North Carolina
Indiana Ohio
Iowa Oklahoma
Kentucky Pennsylvania
Louisiana Tennessee
Maryland Vermont
Montana  

As of January 2008, the following 8 states are piloting statewide Quality Rating & Improvement Systems:

Delaware Mississippi
Idaho Missouri
Kansas Nebraska
Maine Rhode Island

As of January 2008, most (20) of the remaining states are exploring or designing Quality Rating & Improvement Systems:

Alaska Massachusetts
Arizona Michigan
Arkansas Minnesota
California Nevada
Connecticut New Jersey
Georgia New York
North Dakota Washington
South Carolina West Virginia
South Dakota Wisconsin
Virginia Wyoming

[back to top]

Who will be eligible to participate in Quality Stars NY?

Any program that is regulated by the State of New York (NYS Office of Children & Family Services and/or NYS Education Department) or the City of New York will be invited to apply for a Star rating. A one-star rating will be granted by completing a simple application (to be designed). The Quality Stars NY will be open to any early care and education program that is regulated by a public agency.

[back to top]

How will parents be notified of Quality Stars NY star ratings?

Once we have a critical mass of rated programs in New York State, we intend to launch a public information campaign so that consumers (and funders, policy makers, planners, and others) are aware of Quality Stars NY star ratings.

While this campaign has not yet been developed, it is likely that we will use, at a minimum, the following information sources:

  • A statewide website that includes information on Quality Stars NY, as well as a searchable database of rated programs.
  • A listing, maintained by Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agencies, of the Quality Stars NY star ratings of child care programs in the CCR&Rs’ geographic areas.
  • Materials through which individual early care and education programs can choose to make their Quality Stars NY rating known, including banners, brochures, staff and parent handbooks, press kits, their own website, and other public relations options.

[back to top]

What information will parents receive about each program?

We are currently reviewing the types of information other states offer to parents. Some states publicize the rating of a program and the full set of standards. Others publicize the rating and a summary report of how a program met the standards.

[back to top]

Will I have an opportunity to comment on the Quality Stars NY standards or to ask other questions?

There is an on-line survey available for the public, parents, providers, and professionals to comment on the proposed Quality Stars NY standards. You may also join our mailing list to receive future updates about Quality Stars NY. Additionally, you may contact us via e-mail if you have questions not addressed in these FAQs, or to request more specific information.

Click here to take the Quality Stars NY Feedback Survey for Center-based Programs.
You may opt-in to our mailing list at the end of the survey.

Click here to take the Quality Stars NY Feedback Survey for Family-based Programs.
You may opt-in to our mailing list at the end of the survey.

Click here to join our mailing list (without taking a survey) and receive future updates about the progress and development of Quality Stars NY.

[back to top]

Will there be differences by county?

Quality Stars NY standards, policies, and procedures will be the same in all counties. However, financial supports and technical assistance may vary based on local needs and resources. Our goal is to partner with as many local funders and intermediaries as possible so that early care and education programs receive as much support as we can leverage.

[back to top]

What will be explored through the Field Test?

We expect to field-test Quality Stars NY in 2008-2009. The estimated cost of the Field Test, which includes financial and other incentives for programs and communities to participate, is about $975,000. The draft plan for the field test is outlined below.

The Goals of the Field Test are to:

  1. Evaluate the ease and efficiency of the process of the Quality Stars NY application, documentation and assessment system under a variety of community conditions (high support, low support, geographical, program setting types, demographics of children).

  2. Validate the standards and the rating scale, i.e., the points weighting is accurate and the star ratings distinguish levels of quality.

  3. Establish a baseline profile of current program quality in the Field Test communities in NYS.

  4. Demonstrate the value/use of community supports for quality improvement.

  5. Gather information about what kinds of improvements programs plan to make to move up in the system. This will inform the content and nature of later support efforts.

  6. Estimate the cost of operating programs by analyzing the actual costs of a sample of programs at different star levels to inform the levels of financial incentives needed in the implemented system (or do this via hypothetical budgets for programs at different levels); and/or estimate the cost of improving from one star level to another based on examining the cost of a sample of program quality improvement plans to inform the determination of levels of program improvement grants.

  7. Estimate the levels of financial incentives needed in the fully implemented system.

The proposed structure of the Field Test is that communities selected will represent the geographic and demographic diversity of NYS. A sample of programs will be selected in each community with the goal of a statewide sample of sufficient size and variety to yield reliable results. We expect to involve about 250 programs in about a dozen communities.

[back to top]