Regulated Child Care - Group child care homes and Keystone STARS participation by level in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

Keystone STARS is the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) used in Pennsylvania to evaluate the quality of early care and education programs.[1] Such program providers include child care centers, group child care homes, and family child care homes, however, this dataset concentrates specifically on group child care homes. In Pennsylvania, group child care homes are defined as “a child care facility in which seven through twelve children of various ages or in which seven through fifteen children from 4th grade through fifteen years of age who are not related to the operator receive child care.”[2] The central focus of QRIS is to improve the overall performance of early childhood programs so that Pennsylvania families have access to high-quality care and education services. Keystone STARS centers not only receive a Department of Human Services Certificate of Compliance, Pennsylvania’s minimum requirement for safety, but additionally combine Early Education standards to ensure children are cared for in safe and educational environments.[3] Early learning programs that participate in Keystone STARS earn rating scores from 1 through 4 based on if they meet certain quality standards in four key areas: staff education, learning environment, leadership/management, and family/community partnerships.[4] STAR 3 and 4 providers are traditionally considered higher quality, while STAR 1 and 2 levels are indicative of lower quality standards. Measuring the number and proportion of group child care homes in STARS provides insights into the relative quality of such centers in Pennsylvania. These statistics also indicate which STAR levels are most common across the state and can be used in efforts for improvement.



[1] The Pennsylvania Key. (2020). Keystone Stars. https://www.pakeys.org/keystone-stars/

[2] The Pennsylvania Key. (2018). Early Learning Programs, Certification. https://www.pakeys.org/getting-started/ocdel-programs/certification/

[3] Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. (2022). Keystone STARS: Information for Parents. https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Services/Children/Pages/STARS-for-Parents.aspx

[4] Pennsylvania Department of Education. (2022). Keystone STARS. https://www.education.pa.gov/Early%20Learning/Keystone%20Stars/Pages/default.aspx

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Data Provided By

Definitions: A group care home is a facility in which seven to 12 children unrelated to the operator receive child care services.

The percents of 'Providers Not in STARS' and 'Providers in STARS' are proportions of the regulated providers in that county.

The percents of the various STAR levels are proportions of the total providers in STARS within that county.

For more information regarding Pennsylvania's Child Care regulations, please visit here.

Data Source: Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning

Footnotes: Pennsylvania’s Rising STARS initiative was launched in September 2012 to promote greater access for at-risk children to higher quality child care and better prepare them to succeed in school. Start with STARS is not recognized as a level of quality and was eliminated July 1, 2012.

Pennsylvania’s quality rating and improvement system, Keystone STARS, went through a revisioning process which started in February 2016 after 14 years of implementation. One of the outcomes of this evaluation is that all providers who are required to have a Department of Human Services certificate of compliance to operate a child care center, group care home, or a family care home as of July 1, 2017 are automatically enrolled in Keystone STARS upon receiving their certificate of compliance. 

Updated March 2022