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Choosing a Quality Program

Choosing the right child care/early-learning program is an important family decision.

Parents/guardians need a childcare solution that is affordable, accessible and is available quickly. Keystone STARS helps parents know what to expect when picking a program.

Childcare programs that participate in Keystone STARS meet standards for teacher quality, classroom and learning activities. Programs can earn from one to four Stars – the more Stars, the higher the quality. Knowing a program’s STAR rating can help narrow the search and connect families with appropriate care more quickly.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Child Care/Early-Learning Program


Is this person or program a safe place for children? Does it meet the necessary regulations? Have there been any complaints against this program? Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare (DPW) regulates childcare programs (family childcare homes, group childcare homes and childcare centers) to make sure they meet minimum health and safety standards. Programs are required to post their certificate of registration or compliance, so if you don’t see it, ask about it.

Keystone STARS Participation

Does the child care or Head Start program participate in Keystone STARS? Programs in Keystone STARS earn a STAR 1 up to a STAR 4 rating by meeting quality standards. Count the Stars – the more STARS, the higher the quality.

Teacher Qualifications

Do teachers have training in early childhood education? Teachers in quality programs have education in child development, such as a Child Development Associate (CDA), Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.

Appropriate Activities

Does the program provide activities appropriate for your child’s age and development? Teachers should observe your child’s skill level and provide activities that will help your child grow.

Family Engagement

Does the program keep families involved in their child’s progress? Quality programs will talk with you about how your child is learning and suggest ways you can help your child learn at home.

Are the Children Happy and Involved?

Learning should be fun!