14. Results-Focused Contracting


The Keystone STARS is Pennsylvania’s Quality Rating Improvement System at the Office of Child Development and Early Learning that aims to improve the quality of early childhood education programs through a performance standards framework leveraged in state contracts to providers. Early learning programs can earn a quality rating score from a STAR 1 to a STAR 4 based on meeting quality standards. Providers who participate have access to customized supports, grants, awards, and other financial assistance such as increased subsidized child care payments based on quality level. Eligibility criteria for child care providers to participate in other state-funded initiatives hinges on the STAR 3 or 4 designation; for example, PreK Counts funding is only available to STAR 3 or 4 child care providers, as noted in state regulations and program guidance. The William Penn Foundation supported an investigation with Institutes of Higher Education that support this decision. An Inquiry into PA Keystone STARS: Summary Report, found 4-year-old children in STAR 3 and 4 centers performed significantly higher on the WSS total score than those in STAR 1 and STAR 2 centers. Further, equitable support to achieve high quality and increased funding eligibility, providers have access to Quality Coaches who offer technical assistance and support to help child care providers increase their Star Rating. Coaches help conduct internal assessments using evidence-based observation instruments and provide guidance in developing a quality improvement plan.

Issue Areas: Economic Mobility, Education