"YoungStar" Rating System Scores State's Childcare Providers

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

We all want our children to have the best daycare possible. Now, there's a website to help you find which childcare centers provide quality care, and which ones barely meet the state's standards.

"YoungStar" five-star rating system has been in place for three years. But since the ratings only come out annually, providers who have been with the program from the beginning, have only been rated twice.

"The programs that were rated last January, versus January 2013, there were more programs that were rated at a higher star level," said Micki Krueger, with the YoungStar north central Wis. office.

One of those success stories is the Woodson YMCA's Wausau Branch. Childcare centers that are serving families enrolled in the Wis. Shares Childcare Subsidy program are required to participate. Any center with a one-star rating can no longer serve those families. However, YoungStar provides centers with technical consultants. They go to the centers and help staff make improvements so they can get a better score next time.

"When we got the phone call for the four star rating, I'm not going to lie, I screamed so loud that they heard us downstairs and the branch director came running up to make sure everything was OK," said childcare dir. Brenda Danielczak. "It just means a lot. It means that we're providing quality care for families, we're providing quality care for the children."

After receiving a three-star rating in 2012, the YMCA revamped its program.

"In the last year we underwent staff training and educating our staff, working on room environments, purchasing materials, we redeveloped our curriculum," Danielczak said.

There are also monetary incentives for doing well. A star is tied to the reimbursement amount a provider will receive from the state.

"Two star programs at this point in time are receiving a 5 percent reduction in their reimbursement rates," Krueger said. "Three star programs are maintaining that level that they receive. Four and five stars are receiving an increase in their reimbursement level."

The more money they get back, the more money they have to attract people with higher education--the most difficult requirement and the only one that's keeping the YMCA from obtaining a 5th star.

"That is the one incentive that we're missing," Danielczak said. "Half of our staff do have bachelor's degrees if they are lead teachers. So in the next year we will work on getting the rest of our staff at least an associate's degree."

To view childcare centers' ratings near you, go to: http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/

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