General Application Questions
Regulatory History Arena Questions
Staff Qualifications and Annual Professional Development Arena Questions
Families and Community Arena Questions
Program Practices Arena Questions
Administration Arena Questions
STARS is meant to begin where you are right now; so, NO, you don’t have to do everything at once.
Start by identifying the standards your program meets now. In each of the 5 arenas, read the standards for 1 point first, then decide if the program has achieved those. If yes, go to the next level. If no, opt to be “not rated” in that arena. Use this process to figure out your best point level in each arena.
You don’t have to have the same points in all the arenas, and you don’t have to wait until you have the highest points. You can earn more points once the other standards are met.
You do not have to wait a year before applying for STARS. Newly opened programs are encouraged to participate in STARS, getting the points they can at start up and using STARS as a guide to program growth over time.
All programs that are registered or licensed with the Child Development Division can apply. However, your program must be in regulatory compliance.
There are no specific classes you have to take to participate. However, if there is a STARS information presentation in your area, please try to attend. Many providers have found it useful to attend a session and learn more about the program details and application process.
The time it takes to prepare the first application depends on the program specifics: its size, what it does, and the number of points it is trying to achieve. Another big factor is how much time the applicant can devote to putting the application together. It will take longer for those with just an hour or two per week to work on it, than it will for those who can put in, say, an hour a day.
Many of the materials needed are ones the program already has and is using. If you “start where you are” and get points for what you are already doing, the application can, in most cases, be completed in less than five hours.
Often, what takes time is doing new things to meet the STARS standards. That's why programs are encouraged to use the time after joining STARS to put new things in place and get recognized for that growth down the road – earning more points and stars along the way.
If you spend more than 20 hours working on an application, please contact the STARS coordinators, Johanna or Lou Ann, at (802) 398-2037 or STARS@mjccvt.org to be sure the instructions are clear.
After the application is sent to the STARS coordinators, it takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete the process and receive your certificate.
The 2010 STARS applications result in a STARS Certificate valid for three years, with annual reports required. If your program closes (the license or registration is closed or terminated), your certificate becomes invalid. If your program reopens (a new Child Development Division license or registration number), you must submit a new application.
At time of reapplication or submission of the annual report, the program requests the number of points that can be verified for each arena. This may be higher, the same, or lower than before. STARS is flexible, allowing programs that have experienced changes to reestablish their standing.
In 2010 the STARS regulations changed in some ways. Effective January 2012 all programs applying for STARS must use an application that looks at the components identified in the new regulations. No program will suddenly have a different star level. There will be a few changes programs will need to adjust to when using the new standards, although many standards remain the same or similar. Those programs that are already familiar with STARS should find the adjustments pretty straightforward.
In the interest of saving postage and paper, please submit only the pages of the application that require information.
A general rule of thumb is that renewals require all annual information ( IPDP’s, training hours, etc.) and all new information ( documentation for new staff or new policies, or higher point level requirements). Other information is kept on file at the stars office and does not need to be re-sent each year.
Please make sure to sign the application. Unsigned applications will be sent back to the provider.
Answer the questions the application asks and attach the documentation that is required. Binders, plastic sleeves, and decorative additions to your stars application are not recommended.
Attach supporting documentation for each arena at the end of the arena and label each document with the number of the related arena. Binders, plastic sleeves, and decorative additions to your stars application are not recommended.
Please make sure that the program’s contact information is for the person who is responsible for the application and is the person who should be contacted if there is a question about the application.
For the purposes of applying to stars, licensing violations that are considered serious are violations that resulted in a Parent Notification Letter or that exhibit a pattern of non-compliance.
If program staff members have professional development documentation entered in the Bright Futures Information System and verified by the Vermont Northern Lights Career Development Center paper documentation is not needed. Please check to make sure that all information is in fact in BFIS.
All program staff members who participate in the classroom on a regular basis, and who have an effect on the environment should be documented in this arena. This includes teachers, assistants and administrators.
Networking activities are typically activities involve staff members participating in meetings in the community and involve people in addition to co-workers. Program staff meetings generally do not fit this description.
Professional development hours that are not counted in the Staff Qualifications arena can be counted in Families and Community.
For 3 points in Families and Community a program chooses one of the available options: Leadership Focus or Strenthening Familes Focus.
At this time the Stars program has available assessors who are trained in the Environment Rating Scales (Infant, Toddler, Preschool, School Age) and the Youth Program Quality Assessment ( school age care only). Programs wanting scored assessments must use one of those tools as a self assessment to be eligible for a Stars assessor to come in to your program.
In the licensed program application there are separate administration sections for Public School operated programs and community based programs that are not operated by a public school. Program should choose one of these options.