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Early Childhood Programs

Keystone Stars

For Families

Quality Child Care

A Keystone STARS facility:

  • provides a Department of Human Services Certificate of Compliance for Centers or registration for Family Day Care Homes at each center;
  • is a comfortable place where your child can explore and learn;
  • offers laughing, reading, and talking to help your child build good language skills;
  • hires teachers who continually learn new ways to help your child succeed;
  • is a safe, healthy and exciting place;
  • offers music, art, science, and play activities that increase school readiness;
  • provides an environment where you child will feel good about him/herself;
  • encourages family involvement;
  • provides teachers who listen to children and parents; and
  • offers children the opportunity to have fun together while being respectful of each other.
Keystone STARS is a quality rating system. It has four STAR levels, as noted in the chart below. Each STAR designation has its own research-based performance standards.

Quality Rating System

These standards measure three areas of child care that make a difference in the quality of care your child receives:

  • from the staff employed by the center,
  • in the environment your child attends every day, and in
  • the way the facility is operated.
As a facility moves from STAR 1 to STAR 4, the requirements in these areas increase. The information below gives examples of the requirements each facility must meet at each STAR level.

STAR Level 11 star

  • A full DHS Child Care Certificate of Compliance or Registration for a year
  • A plan to increase early care and education professional development and training for the staff
  • Increased staff communication via team meetings
  • A completed self-assessment on quality items in the environment

STAR Level 22 stars

  • Director and staff must receive at least three to six hours more annual professional development and training than DHS regulations require.
  • One-third of the staff completed or are enrolled in credentials or degrees.
  • Learning materials such as books, blocks, puzzles, music, and art supplies are available for some of the day.
  • The facility has a budget and provides at least one benefit to staff.
  • Some involvement of parents in the program.
  • A plan to address needs found in a standardized self-assessment of the program.

STAR Level 33 stars

  • Even more professional development and training hours than STAR 2 requires.
  • Half of the staff completed or are enrolled in credentials or degrees.
  • Learning materials are available for a large part of the day.
  • Literacy activities, including reading to children, story telling, and encouraging written and verbal communication take place often during the day.
  • Increased parental involvement
  • Written policies and procedures
  • Implementation of a financial system, increased staff compensation, and benefits

STAR Level 44 stars

  • Even more professional development and training hours than STAR 3 requires.
  • Two-thirds of the staff completed or are enrolled in credentials or degrees.
  • Activities designed to encourage communication, both written and verbal, occur naturally in the day.
  • Parental and community resources are used effectively in the delivery of quality child care.
  • Business, organizational, and staff compensation practices are maximized.
  • A review of the facility by a nationally recognized environmental rating scale that indicates a high-quality score


Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children is a coordinated statewide campaign to raise awareness about the value of quality early learning for all of our young children and build responsibility among every Pennsylvanian for the early learning of the young children in their lives.

Click here for more information and to visit the Pennsylvania Promise for Children Web site.


Click here to find a STARS facility near you.

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