QRIS State Profile
This profile is from the QRIS Compendium—a comprehensive resource for information about all of the QRIS operating in the U.S. and its Territories. It was developed by a partnership of the BUILD Initiative, the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, and Child Trends.
QRIS Resource Guide Examples
Approaches to Implementation
Oklahoma Made Adjustments in Response to Feedback
The first QRIS launched in Oklahoma in 1998. Reaching for the Stars included only two star levels. One year later, the state funded a third star level for programs that met two-star standards and were nationally accredited. Following two years and lagging participation levels, program designers recognized that the gap between one-star licensing and two-star standards was greater than most providers could accomplish. They therefore created a midpoint—the one-star-plus level—that provides financial incentives and recognition for providers that need more support to progress to higher star levels.
Quality Assurance and Monitoring
Oklahoma Responded to Unintended Consequences in Its QRIS
Oklahoma’s Reaching for the Stars QRIS policy and procedures were specific and detailed so that staff and providers understood the process. This understanding was essential because of the significant financial consequences of star status on tiered reimbursement rates. Because it was difficult to evaluate a program when it first opened, the QRIS policy initially stated that a program could not apply for a higher star level until it had a full license, generally achieved after 6 months of operation. This requirement imposed a hardship on new programs as well as on existing child care centers, particularly if there was a change of ownership. Under new ownership, the tiered rates dropped dramatically, jeopardizing the continued quality of the center. As a result, the policy was changed to allow new programs with an initial permit to participate.
Provider Incentives and Support
Oklahoma Created the Scholars for Excellence in Child Care Initiative
Oklahoma created its own scholarship program, the Scholars for Excellence in Child Care Initiative, to help early and school-age care and education providers continue their education and meet Reaching for the Stars QRIS criteria. To qualify for the Scholars for Excellence initiative, providers needed to work in one-star-plus-or-above child care facilities that were licensed and cared for subsidized children (in other words, at least 10 percent of children in care must have received subsidies). This program placed a scholar coordinator at each community college to recruit, advise, and support students who were often entering the higher education system for the first time. Central office and community college coordinators assisted providers with career counseling and obtaining financial assistance, including scholarships funded by the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) for Child Development Associate or Certified Childcare Professional credential assessments, career tech, or community college coursework. Scholarship funds could be used to pay for tuition, fees, limited release time, and books. Scholar coordinators made at least two onsite technical assistance visits with the provider each semester to provide classroom assistance or career advisement.
Oklahoma's Public Awareness Strategies
Oklahoma delayed the launch of its Reaching for the Stars public awareness campaign for parents until most counties had a program above the one-star level. To inform parents, the state used television and radio public service announcements, advertisements before movies in theatres, brochures and posters in many public places, and billboards. When child care providers attained a higher level, they were given a certificate, window decal, and newspaper article template to submit to their local newspaper. Some licensing staff loaned them yard signs and banners to proclaim their achievement. A provider’s Star status was clearly displayed when a parent used the online Child Care Locator to obtain a list of licensed facilities. For providers, all staff received a lapel pin reflecting their program’s Star status, and they were recognized at early childhood state conferences.