Vermont's Step Ahead Recognition System (STARS) is designed to help parents evaluate programs that care for their kids. Sponsored by the Child Development Division of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, STARS assigns star rankings to participating childcare, preschool and after school programs.
The process is much more thorough than a simple site visit. To receive a ranking, programs must complete an application that assesses progress in five areas: compliance with state regulations; staff qualifications and training; communication and support of children, families and communities, providers' self-assessments and plans for improvements; and the strength of a program's operating policies and business practices. Simply by completing the application, programs demonstrate a desire to go above and beyond the minimum state standards.
The STARS coordinators assign applicants one to five stars. A single star means a program is new or examining its practices and working to improve them; a five-star ranking signifies that a program is established and outstanding in all areas. A ranking is good for three years, though each applicant must complete an annual review to maintain it.
STARS helps parents assess a program's quality and professionalism, and it can also save them money. Parents who meet the state's income eligibility guidelines may pay less for childcare if they enroll their children in programs with three, four or five stars.
Each month, Kids VT publishes an excerpt of the list of STARS participants. This month's "Seeing STARS" features participating programs in Colchester, Essex, Jericho, Milton, Underhill and Winooski. Find more information about STARS, a complete list of rankings and other childcare resources at dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/stars.
Shining Star: Children's Preschool and Enrichment Center Inc.
- Matthew Thorsen
- Karen Gray
- 39 Main Street, Essex, 878-1060
- Type of program: Full-year preschool program
- Year opened: 1987
- Age range of children: 3 to 5 years old; children who have been in kindergarten can attend in summer.
- Last field trip: Green Mountain Audubon Center
- Favorite rainy-day activity: "Scary Afternoon" with books and flashlights to help process fears in a safe atmosphere
- Favorite song: "Jump Up and Down"
- Most recent staff development activity: In-service day with "Medicine Administration" in the morning; "Strengthening Families" in the afternoon
Carolyn's Red Balloon
40 Severance Green, Suite 101, 878-5001
Little Feats Daycare
5857 Roosevelt Highway, 878-4220
Essex & Essex Junction
Children's Preschool and Enrichment Center, Inc.
39 Main Street, 878-1060
5 Ewing Place, 879-4427
75 Maple Street, 878-1375
Essex Town Preschool
1 Bixby Hill Road, 878-2584
Green Mountain Montessori School
8 Jericho Road, 879-9114
Hand In Hand Creative Learning Center
3 Oliver Wight Drive, 524-6028
Hiawatha Early Education
34 Hiawatha Avenue, 878-1386
Kangaroo Corner Child Care
26 Susie Wilson Road, 872-2772
14 Colbert Street, 878-4603
8 Murray Road, 879-7559
Summit Street Elementary School
51 Park Street, 872-3266
Y School Age
Program at Essex
Essex Elementary School, 1 Bixby Hill Road, 350-2252
Y School Age
Program at Founders School in Essex
Founders School, 33 Founders Road, 350-2249
Good Shepherd Preschool
273 Route 15, 899-3989
Saxon Hill School
7 Red Mill Drive, 899-3832
49 Strawberry Lane, 893-7822
34 Villemaire Lane, 893-6625
Diane's Day Care
48 Railroad Street, 893-4530
724 Route 7 South, 893-0530
Imagination Island Child Care
52 Maplewood Avenue, 893-7501
Little Feats Too
9 Checkerberry Square, 893-4569
Milton After School Kids (MASK)
Milton Family Community Center, 23 Villemaire Lane, 893-1457
Milton Family Community Center
23 Villemaire Lane, 893-1457
Child Works Preschool and
63 Timber Ridge Road, 899-4976
Poker Hill School
209 Poker Hill Road, 899-3716
Underhill/Jericho Preschool Program
6 Irish Settlement Road, 899-4676
Winooski Early Childhood Program
60 Normand Street, 655-0411
Winooski Family Center
80 Normand Street, 655-1422