YoungStar Details Emerge from the State

Recently, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) released details on the proposed Quality Rating and Improvement System for child care providers, YoungStar. In one document DCF describes reasons why a QRIS was created, what the QRIS is proposed to do, and the timeline for implementation. The program is proposed to begin in August 2010 and initial ratings are expected to appear on the DCF website in October 2010. This document also details the recommendation to link Wisconsin Shares reimbursement rates with provider quality. These changes in payment rates-which will increase by 25% for 5 star programs, 10% for 4 star programs, and 5% for 3 star programs-are proposed to be implemented in July of 2011. Read the full summary document here.

In another document, DCF details how programs can earn points, how many points are needed (and what criteria must be met) for each star level, and how family child care programs and child care centers can earn points in different ways. Points are awarded in 4 categories: teacher qualifications/education, learning environment/curriculum, professional practices, and health and wellness. Certain indicators must be met in each of the four categories to reach higher ratings. View the full document here.

Keep visiting our blog and the DCF website as more details about YoungStar are unveiled.

5 thoughts on “YoungStar Details Emerge from the State

  1. I have so many questions regarding this system. The two trainings that we need to have are not even in this area so how can we earn a star for that. The WMELS and the Early Learning Pyramid training model. The La Crosse Family Resource Center doesn’t even know when these trainings are going to be held in this area.

    Also when there is already four stars in a certain area does that mean you are already a four star center. Administrator Credential or Preschool Credential (or 18 early
    childhood credits)****

    How is going to be doing the evaluation on the centers?

    We have not even had a meeting regarding this. Well there was one but it was on a Friday at Noon, I was given two day notice of the meeting.

    Jessica

  2. You and MANY others have questions about this system. First the Joint Finance Committee of the State Legislature needs to approve the system and then there will be opportunities to learn more about how it will work. WECA and other organizations will be working with the Department of Children and Families to provide that information around the state.

    Since you are in La Crosse, you could come to the meeting of the Great Rivers Association for the Education of Young Children (GRAEYC) TONIGHT (2/16) from 6-7:30 for a continuing education workshop where there will be some additional information about the proposed YoungStar program. It will be at Western Technical College, Center for Childhood Education 419 N. 9th St. La Crosse. The training is free for GRAEYC members and $5 for non-members. If you want to attend you should rsvp to: graeyc@hotmail.com.

  3. YoungStar

    On April 21, 2005 I attended training for the proposed “Quality Care for Quality Kids”. I embraced the proposal and started the work to put into place suggested quality improvements. This proposal was intended to promote quality care for all of Wisconsin’s children in regulated care, but particularly for low-income families. It was further built on key principles as the system used would be simple to understand, valid and realistic for providers, efficient to administer, and built upon existing systems. This plan was very well thought out, put together with care, and brought to providers in a learning format. It covered three quality indicators: Educational qualifications, Learning environment and curriculum, and Professional practices. I would make quality improvements and be paid more for the higher standard of care. As you well know now, that did not happen.

    The current proposal couldn’t be further away from my former experience. This proposal as written at this time appears to have been hastily written and somewhat disorganized. One example of several that I could list requires the child care program to demonstrate how their curriculum aligns with the WMELS and utilizes WMELS before the provider has completed full WMELS training. It is much more comprehensive, complicated, and costly to providers than the 2005 proposal. This proposal was not brought out to providers in an educational fashion, but has been kept fairly hidden. The DCF website contains no real information or specifics to providers on the content of the proposal.

    Under the current proposal for Family Child Care providers in Category 1: Provider Qualifications the document cites HFS-45 which no longer exists (It is now DCF-250). The chart itself is difficult to read. Numbers are usually written from left to right and not top to bottom, thus making the points appear cumulative. Where a FCC provider could be awarded 14 points, the 4 is missing. The requirement of an initial Registry Certificate was added to licensing code (adding additional cost); but if this is Wisconsin’s Professional Recognition System, why is it not being used to demonstrate provider qualifications? In fact, I do not see The Registry mentioned anywhere within the draft. I’ve earned 30 credits in Early Childhood Education, but within this “Quality Indicator” table there are no possible points between 4 points and 10 points.

    Throughout this proposal there are many hidden costs related to implement quality improvements. Some are one time costs, but most would be ongoing additional expenses. Some examples include, but are not limited to the hidden costs that are listed below:

    Environmental rating scales
    Accreditation self-study
    “The curriculum”
    WMELS training
    Anything “administered by an independent entity”
    Individualized portfolios
    “Authentic” assessment tools
    An increase in the number of paid holidays
    An increase in the number of paid sick leave/personal
    An increase in the number of paid vacation days
    Credit based inclusion training or completion of the Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning Pyramid training model (This is hugely expensive!)
    Lesson plans and “targeted” lesson plans

    A micro-grant to licensed FCC providers of $500 does not come close to cover the actual costs of the initial implementation let alone the ongoing nature of many of the items listed above. Will T.E.A.C.H. and R.E.W.A.R.D. (has a waitlist now) have continued and adequate funding that would allow for assistance to increases in providers looking for credit based education?

    The latest proposal I’ve seen is for a biometric fingerprint identification system with the provider picking up the cost of the equipment ($400-$500) by January 2011. Again, one more cost for providers who have Wisconsin Shares clients. I’m not sure that I can continue to afford to accept Wisconsin Shares clients. Rates were decreased and hours increased from 2005-2006, co pays increased in 2007, and rates since that time have remained frozen. Not unlike most businesses, our overhead costs have continued to climb. I’ve had to raise rates. I’m worse off now than 5 years ago. If I have to raise rates again; I fear that Wisconsin Shares clients may no longer be able to afford my service in any case. This proposal could turn out to be a lose/ lose and not the win/win that would be hoped for.

    Sincerely,
    Cindy

  4. I am a no nonsense kind of person so I will get straight to the point.
    For what ever good intentions that this rating system was intended for, I can tell you it is a joke. What fool sat up in their ivory tower and decided that all of Wisconsin’s childcare providers have an even playing field. And has anyone of them worked or ran a Early childhood program. I bet not. Did anyone of them consider the cost of living differences in Madison compared to let say Adams Friendship. What one communities average wage is in Milwaukee compared to lets say Westfield.

    How many of you are sitting with a college degree working in a small community child care setting, as a lead teacher making the average in Sauk county 19,600.00.
    How many childcare providers are getting $260.00 a week for an infant or toddler? The state subsidy doesn’t even offer that weekly fee. ( another sore subject for honest hard working Centers)

    This rating system may weed out some childcare centers that are not up to standards but wasn’t that the job of the State of Wisconsin DCF licenser to begin with. If that government agency needed fixing then why not improve on that.

    This is what happens when the communication are not open to all involved. This was not open for discussions unless you lived in a large city mostly Milwaukee and Madison. For some of us we could not afford to take a day off to drive the distant. The state DCF office had emails for most of us why couldn’t it have been an online discussion.

    And to end were is our voice. I would have thought that WECA, 4C’s, DCF or someone who really knows the Early Childhood industry would have seen that this Rating system was rushed through, blown up and generally not realistic for many if not most of the 9000 licensed child care providers.

    Am I crazy?
    P.S. Fix the our roads! No train.

  5. I would like to express my sincere belief in quality childcare programs for all children. Every child deserves a wonderful beginning in a quality environment. Statistics and studies support the life long benefits of a quality childcare program.

    I feel the proposed Quality Rating and Improvement System in WI is a conundrum (according to the American Heritage College Dictionary conundrum means paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma) yet it is inevitable in the forseeable future and guaranteed to impact childcare programs, children, families and teaching staff both positively and negatively. I feel greater impact will be negative repurcussions for smaller centers, centers located in small rural communities, for profit centers and those centers who have minimal WI Shares participants.

    I have worked in the early childcare field for twenty five plus years as a teacher, owner, director and administrator. Do I have a college degree? The answer is no. Have I continued my education? Yes, enthusiastically for nearly twenty six years. Have I taken credit courses? Yes. Does the sum total equal a degree? The answer once again is no. I have taught classes for close to fifteen years, have been active in local and county boards and committees; and have mentored numerous college graduates in the early childhood and elementarty education fields.

    Early Childcare Education has been my life’s work and now I find myself to be “under quailified’ according to the proposed QRIS. I have successfully retained an educated and experienced staff in two center programs one for fifteen years in Illinois and eleven plus years in Wisconin. The majority of our staff have college degrees and exceed the required annual educational requirements.

    At this point the teachers at By Leaps and Bounds Childcare and Preschool in Sauk Prairie WI unanimously agree that the benefits of the proposed QRIS would be minimal, primarily because we are a quality center offering quality and equality for all children in our community. Additional reasons to support our beliefs are: 1. We are located in a small rural community 2. We have very few children enrolled who recieve WI Shares 3. Therefore we don’t even quailify for the WI Food Program (which is a QRIS requirement) 4. It is cost prohibitive to provide health insurance benefits for our staff (the majority are eligible for spousal insurance benefits) 5. We are the only childcare and preschool group center in our community.

    The teachers in our program have recently raised the question; would an additional two years of college (or additional degrees) make them a better teacher? The majority feel their educational qualifications and experience already exceed what is required. They are a dedicated staff of professionals with varying degrees of education and experience and that is a winning combination!

    The real conundrum is we already provide a quality program, and although we accept (and welcome) children whose families recieve state assistance , we currently only have one child enrolled who recieves WI Shares; which brings us to our “first conundrum” which is we are ineligible for the WI Food Program since we do not have 25% or more children recieving WI Shares. This also brings us to our “second conundrum”, which is, we wouldn’t meet a QRIS rating higher than a three without having the WI Food Program. Another factor in this conundrum is the majority of our staff is married and has spousal insurance; and offering a health insurance benefit isn’t an affordable option at this time. This brings us to the third conundrum; we wouldn’t meet the QRIS rating of higher than a three without a health insurance benefit for our staff.

    MAYBE THIS SHOULD BE CALLED THE ‘SNOWBALL EFFECT’?

    After all we barely survived the loss of many four year old children to local 4-K programs and are still recovering.

    Due to the economy over the past year our center took another hard hit and our enrollment decreased nearly 30%.

    Established quality programs could potentially be greatly and negatively affected by the proposed Quality rating and Improvemnet System.

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