New York State allocated an unprecedented $35 million funds to QUALITYstarsNY from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This three-year investment has allowed QUALITYstarsNY to double its participation and build its capacity and infrastructure for future growth—if an increase in annual funding is provided in the NYS budget to sustain the project on this larger scale. As of today, more than 85,000 young children and their families are now served by a QUALITYstarsNY participating program in all 10 economic regions of New York State.

Increased Professional Development Support for the Early Childhood Workforce

Thousands of established and emerging early childhood professionals have deepened their knowledge and practice with support from QUALITYstarsNY.

In 2021, the funding from ARPA was used to establish the QUALITYstarsNY Scholarship, in partnership with the Early Childhood Career Development Centers across the state. Teachers and administrative staff of participating programs may receive the scholarship to complete their early childhood education degree or credit-bearing certification, credential, or coursework. So far, 775 educators have received 2,950 scholarship awards in the last two years to pursue early childhood degrees and credit-bearing credentials. 

In addition to these awards, the QUALITYstarsNY Scholarship also supports students with purchasing books for their early childhood courses; fees for exams, prep workshops, and practice tests to help them earn NYS early childhood credentials; transcript translation and equivalency services to honor foreign language degrees; and more.

QUALITYstarsNY also continues to fund professional development and training for participants through its Quality Scholars program, in partnership with the Professional Development Program at SUNY Albany.

These scholarships and professional development supports are designed to meet the needs of the under-supported early childhood workforce — most of whom are not eligible for other funding sources for professional development offered by New York State

QUALITYstarsNY’s Impact on Program Quality

By participating in QUALITYstarsNY, all programs are on a path to excellence. The QUALITYstarsNY Standards provide the framework for the elements of a high-quality early childhood program—and participants receive the support and resources to put them into practice.  

The data on participating programs that have been rated multiple times demonstrates that QUALITYstarsNY’s proven model of continuous quality improvement is helping to increase and sustain the quality of early learning opportunities available to New York’s children and families.

77% of re-rated programs increased their Star Rating or sustained a high-quality rating of 3, 4, or 5 Stars.

Significant strides are being made by programs that earned 1-2 Star Ratings when they initially started working with QUALITYstarsNY. After spending three years engaging in continuous quality improvement, and accessing QUALITYstarsNY’s support and resources: 

66% of programs initially rated 1- and 2-Stars are now high-quality programs with a rating of 3-5 Stars.

Among programs that earned a 1-Star rating, 83% increased their Star rating by one to three Star levels when re-rated.

Systems Building

The ARPA funding allowed QUALITYstarsNY to further develop and enhance our systems for rating and quality improvement planning, including:

  • More robust data collection and reporting practices: This new data will allow us to inform and update stakeholders on quality in New York’s early childhood system and generate insights around the support and resources providers need to successfully develop and sustain a high-quality program.  
  • Major systems upgrade to modernize and streamline the user experience for participants: New user-friendly processes and an enhanced interface have made it easier for providers to apply to participate and complete the rating process. 

Investing the Time & Effort Needed to Increase Quality

Programs participating in QUALITYstarsNY are visited every 4-6 weeks by their Quality Improvement Specialist. This model allows Specialists to form meaningful relationships with program leaders, as well as a deep understanding of programs and their needs. Over the last three years, Quality Improvement Specialists have spent a combined 31,000+ hours of one-on-one time on-site with programs, engaging their leaders and staff in the work of continuous quality improvement. These are hours programs would not otherwise have spent on quality improvement—and yet it is exactly what is needed to get early childhood education programs to increase and sustain high-quality practices.

Critical Support for Child Care Desert Grant Programs

QUALITYstarsNY has enrolled nearly 450 early childhood programs that received a Child Care Deserts Grant from the Office of Children & Family Services and are now serving children in the areas of the state where access to early childhood education is limited. QUALITYstarsNY has provided these newly opened or expanding programs with the support and guidance they need to create a high-quality early childhood program. Participating in QUALITYstarsNY sets them up for success right from the start. 

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for scalability, an increased annual investment of $20 million for QUALITYstarsNY in the NYS budget will allow us to continue to support our new participants and maintain the workforce supports we’ve implemented through ARPA expansion. QUALITYstarsNY is eager to offer these critical services to even more providers across New York State, which is only possible through a sustained, increased state investment that matches the new size of New York State’s Quality Rating & Improvement System.