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Important information and assistance

STARS: STep Ahead Recognition System


STARS is Vermont’s Quality Recognition and Improvement System for child care, preschool, and afterschool programs.


Participation in STARS means that a program is striving beyond licensing regulations to meet higher quality standards, uphold professional practices, and commit to continuous quality improvement.


On July 1, 2023, the Child Development Division (CDD) launched a revision to Vermont’s Quality Recognition and Improvement System (QRIS), known as the STARS.

The revised model reflects the unique culture and identity of quality practices in Vermont’s early childhood and afterschool programs and offers equitable opportunities for programs and providers to participate. The system focuses Vermont’s efforts more closely on positive outcomes for children, engagement of families, and support of our early childhood and afterschool programs.  

Pilot Year

The first year of the STARS revision, July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024, is a pilot year allowing programs to become familiar with the new system and for CDD to test new materials and processes.

Participating programs will maintain their current STARS levels during the pilot year.  The STARS Team will contact programs due to renew their STARS certificates to offer training and guidance, and to introduce the new SPARQS resources. 

STARS Trainings

New Round of Live Training Sessions

See the chart for session dates and links to register. The live sessions count towards professional development hours as required by Vermont Child Care Licensing Regulations. 

Training Videos

Training videos on YouTube (Subscribe to our Channel):

Tools & Resources

  • STARS Revision Levels and Content Areas Chart (PDF)

  • STARS Guidance Manual (PDF) - The manual is a living document that will be updated frequently during the pilot year.

  • STARS FAQs (PDF) 

  • New program supports are in the works too! CDD is implementing the System for Program Access to Resources for Quality Supports (SPARQS) to help guide programs through the new revision and to build and execute their plans for quality improvement. 

Apply To STARS

Complete the online STARS application!

Questions or Feedback