Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear Ceremonially Signs Bill to Enhance Rating System for Early Child Care Programs

Press Release Date:  Monday, June 15, 2015  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

System will help parents identify quality child care facilities, help increase kindergarten readiness among young children

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky families can now be assured of the quality of their early learning and child care choices. Gov. Steve Beshear joined early childhood professionals and community members today to ceremonially sign House Bill 234.

The bill expands and enhances Kentucky’s quality rating system for early care and education programs.

“All families want what is best for their children,” Gov. Beshear said. “Working parents need and deserve to know if their children are in high-quality care and education programs. This is another step in making sure all Kentucky children are safe, nurtured and prepared for school and life.”

The five-star rating system, called Kentucky All STARS, is being piloted this year and assesses quality across different program types including, community-based child care, Head Start and school-based Pre-K. The new rating system will help families more easily identify quality facilities so that their children are more likely to arrive at school ready to learn and succeed.

Only 50 percent of students in all 173 school districts arrived kindergarten-ready, according to the 2014-15 Kentucky Kindergarten Readiness Screening of children entering kindergarten. That means nearly 24,500 students entered school less than fully prepared to do kindergarten-level work.

High-quality early care and education programs can help mitigate this issue.

According to research, children who experience quality early learning programs are healthier, more self-sufficient and less likely to enter the criminal justice system over their lifetime.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes said that All STARS will make it easier for parents to find the best child care provider for their family.

“All STARS will set a consistent standard for quality,” Secretary Haynes said. “Those rating stars will mean that providers meet certain requirements for their curriculum, regulatory compliance, staff training and more. For parents making a choice in child care, All STARS will give them a reason to be confident in their decision.”

Currently, only licensed child care programs are included in the All STARS rating system. House Bill 234, sponsored by Rep. Derrick Graham, expands this system to include all school-based and private programs that receive public funding.

The redesigned system also addresses concerns from providers and integrates new research about what helps children make progress in early learning. All STARS will rate programs based on classroom and instructional quality, administrative and leadership practices, staff qualifications and professional learning, and family and community engagement.

“I was proud to sponsor this new law, which will give parents, early childhood programs and state officials the information they need regarding the quality of care and instruction for Kentucky’s young children,” said Rep. Graham, of Frankfort, who chairs the House Education Committee. “Having the Race to the Top funding will ensure this program gets the smooth start we need. I want to thank Governor and First Lady Beshear and everyone involved in the passage of this law for their support. Both the Governor and First Lady have been strong advocates for early childhood development programs.”

“House Bill 234 represents one of the many tools the legislature has provided to help young people succeed in school,” said Sen. David Givens, of Greensburg, who also serves on the Senate Education Committee and the Interim Joint Committee on Education. “Preschool education impacts student’s future academic success. Early child care standards, that foster higher quality learning environments, benefit Kentucky families. The key to this bill is that state agencies will work with early child caregivers and educators to develop this system. In addition, the ratings system, while mandatory for publicly funded caregivers, remains voluntary for private providers that do not receive public funds. I look forward to the results of the Kentucky All STARS pilot program and how it will benefit Kentucky’s preschoolers.”

The redesign of the rating system is funded by the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant awarded to Kentucky in 2013, with the majority of funds going to provide hands-on, on-site coaching, technical assistance and affordable training to programs as they prepare to be rated or improve their rating.

“Kentucky has a vision and commitment to providing more young children with high quality early learning experiences,” said Kentucky Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Executive Director Terry Tolan. “With RTT-ELC we have a unique opportunity to apply a robust set of resources to make change happen and improve outcomes for children.”

“The new rating system will help ensure parents, preschools, and child care providers are all on the same page when it comes to the expectations for high-quality early learning experiences,” Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said. “It is critical that if children are to succeed in school that they start out prepared and ready to learn.”

Kentucky All STARS was created in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Division of Childcare, and the Kentucky Department of Education.