Delaware’s Department of Education is prepping to revamp Delaware Stars for Early Success—the state-funded Quality Rating and Improvement System for early care and learning centers throughout the state.
It gives early childcare providers a one-to-five-star rating, based on factors like learning environment, family outreach, and professional development for staff.
These ratings translate into tiered reimbursements for enrollment of low-income kids eligible for purchase-of-care through the Department of Health and Social Services.
Last week, the Department of Education wrapped up meetings seeking feedback from daycare owners and other stakeholders about the Stars program, which started as pilot in 2007.
Carol Felton has owned Little Voices Heard daycare in New Castle for 20 years. It has 4-stars under the program.
Felton says the educational materials she’s gotten through Delaware Stars have changed the way she teaches—by helping her integrate fun with literacy training.
“We can be playing any type of game, like on the floor, and they learn that way, and it’s quicker,” she said.
But Felton says if she could change anything about the program, she would add more technical assistants, which guide early learning centers through Stars’ quality improvement and tiered reimbursement systems.
In Fiscal Year 2018, a funding freeze did not allow participating programs to receive increased reimbursements even if they’d advanced a star level.
Though reimbursement upgrades are funded this fiscal year, Director of the Office of Early Learning at the Department of Education Kim Krzanowski says it’s time to update the program.
“After ten years, it’s a good time to start looking at things systemically,” she said. “We want to make sure that children are coming out of that program ready for transition on to kindergarten or beyond.”
Krzanowski says the feedback from last month’s community meetings will be compiled into a report by an outside party—then feedback and recommendations will be presented to stakeholders for comment.
She hopes changes to the Stars system will be rolled out in Fiscal Year 2020.