STARS FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

Many providers have questions about the goals of STARS, how it works and how to apply. Answers to questions, technical assistance, and STARS applications are available through the STARS coordinators at (802) 398-2037 or STARS@mjccvt.org.


General Questions:

  1. Can my program participate?
  2. Can I participate when I first open or do I have to wait a year?
  3. There’s a lot of stuff to do to get all these points. Do I have to do it all at once?
  4. Does STARS require that I take any classes?
  5. How long does it take to get into STARS?
  6. Does a program need to renew its STARS?
  7. Does a program's number of stars ever increase or decrease?

Application Questions:

General Application Questions
  1. Which parts of the application form do I need to return?
  2. How creative do I need to be with the application?
  3. What is the best way to organize the documents?
  4. Whose name should be on the application form?
Staff Qualifications and Annual Professional Development Arena Questions
  1. What do I need to send in if staff members have professional development information in BFIS?
Families and Community Arena Questions
  1. What type of activities count as networking activities?
  2. Does my early childhood network count as a professional organization?
  3. Do we need to do both the Leadership and the Strengthening Families Focus to receive 3 points?
Program Practices Arena Questions
  1. Which assessment tool is the best for my program if I am interested in growing and improving my program's practices?
Administration Arena Questions
  1. As a licensed program, do we need to fill out both of the administration sections of the application?

General Questions

  1. Can my program participate?

All programs that are registered or licensed with the Child Development Division and have a full license will automatically receive one star, and can apply for more STARS. If your program has a provisional license, you must wait until you receive a full license to participate.

  1. Can I participate when I first open or do I have to wait a year?

Programs can apply to increase a star level at any time. The Child Development Division strongly encourages all programs, including newly opened programs, to use STARS to guide program growth and continuous quality improvements over time.

  1. There’s a lot of stuff to do to get all these points. Do I have to do it all at once?

STARS is meant to begin where you are right now, so NO, you do not have to do everything at once.

Start by reviewing each of the four arenas (Staff Qualifications and Annual Professional Development, Families and Community, Program Practices, and Administration) to decide whether your program has achieved any (or all) standards associated with that arena. 

  1. Does STARS require that I take any classes?

You do not have to take any mandatory classes. However, please try to attend an information-related STARS presentation when one is offered online or in your area. Many providers have found it useful to attend a session to learn detailed information about the STARS program and the application process.

  1. How long does it take to get into STARS?

The time to prepare an application will depend upon specifics related to your program. STARS is designed so that you may “start where you are” and get points for what you are already doing. You may already possess and use many of the materials you will need for the application, and you may already be engaging in many of the practices for which the STARS Office will need documentation.

Often what may take time is doing new things to meet the STARS standards. That's why the Child Development Division encourages programs to use the time after applying for additional stars to put new practices in place. Then a program may be recognized for its growth, achievements, and quality improvements as they are made – earning more points and stars along the way.

The STARS Office will review your application within two weeks of receiving it and will contact you if more information is needed to complete the approval process; they will tell you what to send. Once the process is complete, your program will be assigned a star level right away.

Please contact the STARS Coordinator at (802) 398-2037 or STARS@mjccvt.org if you have questions or need technical assistance.

  1. Does a program need to renew its STARS?

A STARS Certificate is valid for three years; programs must submit an annual report each year. If your program closes (the license or registration is closed or terminated), your certificate will become invalid. If your program reopens (with a new Child Development Division license or registration number), you must submit a new application. 

  1. Does a program's number of stars ever increase or decrease?

Yes. When a program re-applies or submits an annual report, the program must request the number of points they want the STARS Office to verify for each arena. A program may request higher, the same, or lower points in an arena than that program may have previously earned in that arena. The design of STARS allows programs that have experienced changes the flexibility to reestablish their standing.

Application Questions

  1. Which parts of the application form do I need to return?

To save postage and paper, please submit only the pages of the application for which information is required.

A general rule of thumb for a renewal application is to update all program information for which you are seeking recognition. Include information related to the year immediately before the date of the application. Please be sure to sign your application. 

  1. How creative do I need to be with the application?

Simply answer the questions the application asks and attach the required documentation. Please do not include binders, plastic sleeves, or decorative additions with your STARS application. If you are mailing a paper copy of the application, please use paper clips to secure the pages. 

  1. What is the best way to organize the documents?

Attach supporting documentation for each arena at the end of the arena’s description in the application and label each document with the number of the related arena. Please do not staple documents or include tab dividers. If you are mailing a paper copy of the application, please use paper clips to secure the pages.

  1. Whose name should be on the application form?

Please ensure the program’s contact information lists the name of the person responsible for the application and the person whom the STARS Office should contact to ask any questions about the application.

  1. What do I need to send in if staff members have professional development information in BFIS?

Do not send the STARS Office any professional development documentation as part of your application (i.e., do not include IPDPs, transcripts, or other staff credential information). The STARS Office will review the relevant BFIS Quality and Credential Accounts to verify degrees and/or professional development documentation. You should check to ensure that all information is in the Bright Futures Information System (BFIS). 

If a program staff member’s BFIS Quality and Credential Account is missing information related to degrees and/or professional development they should visit the Northern Lights at CCV website, or contact the Northern Lights at CCV Resource Advisor for their region.

All program staff members (e.g., teachers, assistants, and administrators) who impact the classroom environment through regular participation in the classroom for 10 hours or more per week should be documented in the Staff Qualifications and Annual Professional Development arena. Do not include auxiliary staff such as drivers, custodial staff, or cooks.

  1. What type of activities count as networking activities in the Families and Communities Arena?

Networking activities or events facilitate exchanging information and ideas, and typically involve staff members plus people who do not work in the program. Program staff meetings rarely fit this description.

  1. Does my early childhood network count as a professional development organization?

No. To count in STARS, a professional organization must act to advance the early childhood education (ECE) profession, support the interests of people working in the ECE profession and serve the public good. The organization facilitates innovation, communication, and connection. A professional organization typically requires member dues, has an elected leadership body, and includes a range of subcommittees or functional areas. Professional organizations may be both national or international and often have close ties to colleges and universities with degree programs in the ECE field.

  1. Do we need to do both the Leadership and the Strengthening Families Focus to receive 3 points in the Families and Communities Arena?

No. To get three points in Families and Community, a program must choose one of the available options: Leadership Focus or Strengthening Families Focus. 

  1. Which assessment tool is the best for my program if I am interested in growing and improving my program's practices?

At this time, STARS has assessors trained in several assessment tools, including:

  • Environment Rating Scales (ERS®; ITERS-3, ECERS-3, and FCCERS-R)
  • Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®: Infant, Toddler, and Preschool)
  • Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA®)
  • School-Age Program Quality Assessment (SA PQA®)
  • Social and Emotional Learning Program Quality Assessment (SEL PQA®)

Center Based Child Care and Preschool Programs (including public preschool programs) and Registered or Licensed Family Child Care Homes may choose either the CLASS or Environment Rating Scales.

Programs serving school-age children should use YPQA®, the SA PQA®, or the SEL PQA®.

For more information about which assessment tool your program should use, please contact the STARS office at (802) 398-2037 or stars@mjccvt.org.

  1. As a licensed program, do we need to fill out both of the administration sections of the application?

The licensed program application includes separate administration sections for a program operated by a public school, and community-based programs not operated by a public school. The program must choose one of these options.

Page Last Updated: 9/29/2021


 

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Miranda Gray, Interim Deputy Commissioner
Child Development Division (CDD)
280 State Drive
Waterbury, VT 05671-1040
Phone: (802) 241-3110 or 1-800-649-2642
Fax: (802) 241-0846

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