Keystone Stars

keystone stars

Governor Wolf Orders Statewide Shutdown of Non-Essential Business

Governor Tom Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown of non-essential business to mitigate the spread of COVID 19 in Pennsylvania earlier today.  Under the Governor’s announcement, certified child care centers (3270) and group child care homes (3280) operating outside a residence shall cease operations effective midnight March 16, 2020 for a period of 14 days. 

The Governor’s order is inclusive of PA Pre-K Counts, HSSAP, Preschool Early Intervention, Private Academic Nursery Schools and locally- funded prekindergarten activities. Prior to the end of the 14-day period, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other applicable commonwealth agencies will determine if an extension is necessary. OCDEL will continue to evaluate options and communicate with you as we learn more. 

The Department of Human Services, recognizes the temporary closure of child care facilities is a burden for all Pennsylvania families who depend on this service. Because it is especially burdensome for essential services personnel such as health care workers, first responders, direct health care staff and long term care facility staff who must have safe and stable care options for their children to report to work, OCDEL has implemented a waiver process for child care facilities serving these families. Operators seeking a waiver from the commonwealth’s temporary closure order should contact OCDEL. Child Care Certification staff will respond to requests as quickly as possible. Email subject line should read, “Waiver Request – (insert county name)”.  


Are you a child care provider looking for an easy way to share documents and information 

with your Quality Coach (QC) or STAR Designator?

All documents uploaded through the Document Uploader by providers can be viewed by a program’s QC and Designator through the SMART software. The QC and Designator can also communicate with the provider through the Document Uploader regarding whether or not the sources of evidence were successfully transmitted, reviewed and determined sufficient, or reviewed and determined that additional information is needed.

We are happy to announce that a recorded webinar on the Document Uploader is now available. The new Keystone STARS Document Uploader is a resource developed specifically for you. It provides an efficient and convenient method to transmit documentation to a QC as you have time, without the worry of traditional mail or fax options.

What is Keystone STARS?



Keystone STARS is a quality rating system that promotes quality improvement in early learning and development programs and school-age child care. A Keystone STARS designation informs parents that their children are in a safe, respectful environment in which they are learning new things every day to support their current and future successes in school and in life.

Since the inception of the Keystone STARS program in 2002, the Performance Standards have been the bedrock of the program. The standards are guided by the principle that quality early learning programs are the foundation for children's success, and investment in the early care and education of Pennsylvania's children is an investment in the future. Therefore, the Keystone STARS Performance Standards reflect research-based practices to improve outcomes for children. The standards are organized into four STAR levels that build upon each other in order to support continuous quality improvement. When a program meets the Performance Standards for a STAR level, they receive the mark of quality, a STAR designation. A Keystone STARS designation informs parents that their children are in a safe, respectful environment.

Early learning programs participating in Keystone STARS can earn a quality rating score from a STAR 1 to a STAR 4. At each level, programs must meet certain quality standards in four key areas: staff education, learning environment, leadership/management, and family/community partnerships. The higher the STAR level, the higher the quality standards.

A vital part of Pennsylvania's early learning system, Keystone STARS works with programs, such as Head Start, school-aged programs, and programs certified by the Department of Human Services.

High quality early learning programs will offer your child a stimulating, nurturing environment which should help prepare them for school and to reach his or her full potential. Quality environments provide a stimulating, loving atmosphere in which children will thrive. The Performance Standards for Keystone STARS quality-rated providers are guided by the principle that quality early learning programs are the foundation for children's success, and investment in the early care and education of Pennsylvania's children is an investment in the future.

Contact Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Region 17 and review the following resources to learn more about the Keystone STARS program!

2019 ERA & Merit Grant Awards


ERA & Merit grant applications are now available through the Early Learning Resource Center Region 17. Programs may only apply for grant funds once the program has been designated or renewed for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Please return your completed grant application to your Quality Coach. 

Bonus Points Tip Sheets

Please review the following Keystone STARS Bonus Points Tip Sheets for quality initiatives associated with the current Keystone STARS bonus point opportunities. OCDEL, in partnership with our quality initiative partners, developed these tip sheets in order to both highlight the bonus point opportunities as well as to provide additional information to providers. Contact your Quality Coach with questions!

After School Quality

Farm to Early Care and Education

PA ECO Healthy Early Child Care

Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS)

PA Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (PA NAP SACC)

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