STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS)

STARS is Vermont’s quality recognition system for child care, preschool, and afterschool programs. Programs that participate in STARS are stepping ahead — going above and beyond state regulations to provide professional services that meet the needs of children and families.

What it Means to Parents

You can look to STARS as one indicator of quality when choosing child care. The more stars a program has, the more it is involved in a wide range of practices that support children, families, and professionals.

If you use a provider that is accredited or has 3, 4, or 5 stars AND you meet the income guidelines, you may qualify for a low income child and dependent care tax credit on your state income tax.

You may pay less for child care if you receive child care financial assistance AND use a program that has stars. This is because the Child Development Division pays a higher rate to programs with stars. Note: Financial assistance payments are made directly to providers.

What it Means to Providers

You can look to STARS as an opportunity to look at your program objectively and use child care quality indicators to identify strengths and areas for improvement.The primary incentive for participating in STARS is local and statewide recognition of your program's achievements. Other incentives include community awards and financial rewards (e.g., higher reimbursement on the child care financial assistance fee scale). For more information about the benefits for providers click here.

More Information

The Child Development Division contracts with coordinators to administer STARS and provide technical assistance to applicants.

If you have any questions about STARS or the application process, contact the STARS coordinators at (802) 398-2037 or

If you prefer to call toll free, contact the Child Development Division at 1-800-649-2642. Press "0" to get the receptionist. Then ask to speak to someone about STARS.