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STARS Program Updates, March 2024

March 13, 2024

Step Ahead Recognition System (STARS) New Model Updates 

In July 2023, the Child Development Division (CDD) launched a revision to STARS, Vermont’s Quality Recognition and Improvement System (QRIS). The revised model focuses more closely on: 

  • Positive outcomes for children,
  • Engagement of families,  
  • Support of early childhood and afterschool programs, and  
  • Continuous quality improvement (CQI). 

CDD provides support to help program leaders learn about and adopt the new model. To learn more, visit the STARS website or review the guidance manual and frequently asked questions. For more information, email CDD STARS staff at or call 1-800-649-2642, option 8.

CDD Welcomes New STARS Administrator 

CDD welcomed Courtney Isham, M.Ed., as the new STARS administrator in December. Courtney has 15 years of experience working at mental health and youth development agencies, including Champlain Valley Head Start and Sara Holbrook Community Center. In previous positions, Courtney played an integral role in evaluating programs and the STARS process, using STARS as a tool during program assessments, and maintaining quality programming. At CDD, her experience in organizational leadership, program management, and her commitment to improving the quality of early childhood and afterschool services will help support STARS. 

STARS Revision Acclimation Period Extended 

Remember to submit your program’s STARS application by your renewal date! 

To help navigate changes to STARS, CDD extended the Revision Acclimation Period to June 30, 2025. This means that your program can engage with the new model and will not be at risk of losing its STARS level during the first renewal cycle (3 years). Your program must engage and apply within the new model to retain STARS. If your program has a certificate renewal that falls after June 30, 2025, CDD encourages you to apply early and begin a new renewal cycle. 

The STARS Revision Acclimation Period gives your program an opportunity to develop your STARS CQI Plan in time for your next STARS renewal date and meet your desired STARS level. 

If circumstances prevent you from submitting the STARS application by the due date, please reach out to discuss finding a renewal date that is within your reach.  

STARS Communities of Practice Launching in April 

Interested in working with peers, coaches, and the CDD STARS team to build your program’s STARS CQI Plan? Join the Communities of Practice, a series of monthly meetings hosted by CDD and SPARQS (System for Program Access to Resources for Quality Supports). Starting in April, dive into STARS tools and strategies to help set achievable quality improvement goals. By August, you will have a completed CQI for your STARS application. For details or registration information, visit the Northern Lights Training calendar.  

Engage with CDD: March STARS Webinars and New Office Hour 

Do you have STARS questions? The CDD STARS Team is available on Thursdays from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. to answer them. Visit the STARS website for the online office hour meeting link, reach out at or 1-800-649-2642, option 8. 

Join CDD’s STARS webinar to learn more about the new model while earning BFIS Quality and Credential Account professional development hours. The next sessions will be: 

  • Tuesday, March 19, 1 p.m. 
  • Monday, March 25, 6 p.m.  

Visit the STARS website or Northern Lights Training calendar to register. 

SPARQS Supports for Early Childhood Education Programs 

SPARQS now offers quality coaching and support services for all early childhood and referrals for afterschool programs. A team of quality support specialists provides consultation, referrals, training, coaching, and mentoring on a range of early childhood education topics.  

SPARQS also provides STARS assessment services as part of the new STARS model. Visit the SPARQS website to learn more about these services. SPARQS is funded by CDD and administered by the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC).