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Keystone STARS

Keystone STARS is Pennsylvania’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). A QRIS is a continuous quality improvement systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs. Keystone STARS is a program of Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).

General Information About
OCDEL's Keystone STARS Program

Resources & Information
for Current STARS Providers

Program Information To Share
with Parents, Guardians & Families

What's new? Get the latest early childhood education (ECE) information and resources directly to your inbox.

Our Guiding Principles

keystone stars dark blue logo

Keystone STARS is a responsive system to improve, support, and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania. Our system is guided by three core principles:

  • A whole child approach to education is essential to meeting the holistic and individual needs of each and every child and family.
  • Knowledgeable and responsive early childhood education (ECE) professionals and educators are essential to the development of children and the support of families.
  • Building and sustaining ongoing positive relationships among children, families, early care and education professionals and community stakeholders is essential for the growth and development of every child.

We believe inclusion, diversity, equity and respect are foundational values embedded in these principles.

Keystone STARS has four primary goals:


To improve the quality of early care and education;


To support early care and education providers in meeting their quality improvement goals;


To recognize programs for continuous quality improvement and meeting higher quality standards; and


To provide families a way to choose a quality early care and education program.

Improving Quality Through

Keystone STARS

Training & Professional Development
Resources and

OCDEL’s Keystone STARS Program supports all early care and education programs to improve program quality. We encourage programs to think about the Keystone STARS Performance Standards as a tool to support continuous quality improvement (CQI) that impacts services to the children and families in your care.

Become A Certified Program

As a Keystone STARS provider, you can...

  • Serve more children (family providers can serve up to six children).
  • Show families that you have a safe and healthy space for their children because you meet Pennsylvania child care health and safety regulations.
  • Receive a higher reimbursement rate through Child Care Works.
  • Apply for other grant programs, such as the Pennsylvania Child And Adult Care Food Program.
  • Obtain liability insurance that protects your business and your home.
  • You may be able to deduct more on your taxes, increasing your net profit.
Receive personal, one-on-one help through the support of a Keystone STARS mentor. Get the support you need to start your journey of becoming a certified child care and Keystone STARS provider.
The Keystone STARS program interested me because I am always striving to do my best and reach my goals. Being able to reach out to the people in Keystone STARS and getting the help I needed, when I needed it, is most valuable to me.
A Provider in Fayette County
Making the Commitment to Quality

Eligibility Requirements

  • The child care program holds a current, full Certificate of Compliance from the Department of Human Services;
  • The program holds a current private preschool academic license from Pennsylvania’s Department of Education; and
  • The program is in good standing with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue.

All participating early care and education programs can receive technical assistance to support continuous quality improvement. Certified and compliant programs are welcomed to Keystone STARS by receiving STAR 1 designation. Programs such as Early Head Start and Head Start programs and Pennsylvania Department of Education Private Academic Preschools are not required to be certified by the Department of Human Services, but are eligible to participate in Keystone STARS.

Next Steps

The first step on a program’s continuous quality improvement (CQI) journey is connecting with a Quality Coach at the local Early Learning Resource Center (visit raiseyourstar.org and search by county or zip code). Quality Coaches are available to help identify a program’s strengths and opportunities for growth. All programs hoping to advance through STAR levels should begin with making a connection with your most supportive resource–your Quality Coach

Support is available to help providers become compliant with Certification regulation. If you have questions about compliance, contact your Certification Representative at your local Regional Office.

For questions regarding eligibility for Keystone STARS, contact your local Early Learning Resource Center (visit raiseyourstar.org and search by county or zip code).


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