February 09, 2023 ~ Memo from Office of Child and Family Services
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) announces the adoption of the Quality Rating and Improvement Rules: Rising Stars for ME.
Maine has operated a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for child care providers and other early care and education programs since 2008. Two studies conducted by independent consultant groups (in 2014 and another in 2016) recommended many of the changes in the revised QRIS. In the summer of 2020, a pilot project was launched with 41 participants across program types that included licensed child care facilities, family child care and licensed facilities serving only school-aged children. During the Rising Stars for ME Pilot, programs received the revised standards. The program owner, director, or designated staff person provided feedback to guide additional revisions to the system. OCFS appreciates the pilot participants for their work and input in support of this effort. OCFS also thanks the public for providing comments during the public comment period and public hearing to further guide changes to the rule.
OCFS would like to notify Maine’s Early Care and Education and School Age programs of the transition plan OCFS and our partners at Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (MRTQ PDN) have in place with the promulgation of the rules.
The transition from Quality for ME into Rising Stars for ME will occur automatically on the evening of March 26, 2023. The Child Care Choices website will be updated accordingly. Rising Stars for ME certificates will be sent to each program via regular mail on March 27, 2023.
Programs will automatically be categorized into the Star Rating equivalent to current Step Level:
- Step 1 programs will become a 2 Star program
- Step 2 programs will become a 3 Star program
- Step 3 programs will become a 4 Star program
- Step 4 programs will become a 5 Star program
All programs will have six months to meet all new standards to maintain their new Star Rating. The new Rising Stars for ME certificates will reflect necessary updated certificate expiration dates. Programs that do not meet the new standards after the six-month timeline will be moved to the Star Rating that reflects the standards that the program has met.
OCFS and MRTQ PDN will be providing outreach, support, and technical assistance to all programs prior to the transition into the new Rising Stars for ME system. Programs may also contact OCFS or MRTQ PDN for individual support as needed.
The rules and additional information and resources can be found on Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) | Department of Health and Human Services (maine.gov)
If you have any questions, please contact Amber Taurasi, Early Childcare and Education Quality Specialist, at (207) 626-8684 or Amber.Taurasi@maine.gov
Rising Stars is still considered a voluntary program outside the Licensing requirement that all programs have to be at minimum apply to the program. If you are in compliance with Licensing at this time you should already have applied for Quality for ME. That application will automatically switch over to Rising Stars.
Star 1 is set for licensed exempt provider programs
Star 2 is set for all programs in compliance with current Licensing Rule
Star 5 is set for all nationally accredited programs
Star 3 & 4 are voluntary levels.
Programs can chose to show they meet additional quality improvement requirements to be recognized at any Stars after Star 2. Programs may be eligible for monetary incentives when moving up to these Stars.
If programs placed on Stars above 2 do not complete the requirements before the 6 months period is up they will go back to the lowest Star they have completed all requirements for which is Star 2 if in licensing compliance. Programs are able to update or reapply anytime they have completed the requirements for any Star level.
DHHS, not licensing, will make decision around Star level upon reviewing submitted documentation. Licensing only confirms licensing status. MRTQ is involved through providing trainings and TA support.
FCCAM Professional Learning Committee has been prepping resources to support family child care providers when the new Rising Stars for ME was adopted. MRTQ PDN also has resources in place. The Continuous Quality Improvement CoP for family child care providers will meet the 3rd Thurs. of each month from 6-7:30pm (starting Jan. ’23) by zoom. We will begin sharing resources on Rising Stars at the Feb 16th Continuous Quality Improvement CoP for FCC. This CoP is co-facilitated by MRTQ PDN and FCCAM PLC.
Come learn more about the Rising Star for ME requirements for family child care programs. There will be opportunities to reflect on what you are doing well and where your program policies and practices can improve. We will review resources already in place to help/support programs with assessment and planning goals to meet QRIS requirements.
A reminder email will be sent to all who have registered with information about the topic and meeting agenda. Another reminder will be sent on the day of the CoP with the meeting link. Remember professional growth hours are awarded for your participation in this CoP and can be used to meet your yearly licensing requirements for training. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
FCCAM will also be making a special Rising Stars google folder available as a benefit for Class A members. Members will be able to download or print off the resource checklist docs provided in the folder. These checklists are built to complement the Everything Notebook set-up.