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If you are a parent looking for child care, the North Carolina Star Rated License system can help. In September 2000, the Division of Child Development issued star rated licenses to all eligible child care centers and family child care homes. (Note: Religious-sponsored child care programs will continue to operate with a Notice of Compliance and will not receive a star rating unless they choose to apply.)

The Revised Star Rated License—What You Need To Know

In 1999, the Division of Child Development (DCD) began issuing star rated licenses to all eligible child care centers and family child care homes. Facilities can receive one to five stars. A rating of one star means that a child care program meets North Carolina’s minimum licensing standards for child care. Programs that choose to voluntarily meet higher standards can apply for a two to five star license. The star rating was initially comprised of a facility’s scores in three quality components:

  • Staff Education
  • Program Standards
  • Compliance History
Then, in 2005, the way facilities are evaluated was changed in order to give parents better information about a program’s quality. The new rules make a 75% “compliance history” a minimum standard for any licensed facility. Because it is now a minimum requirement, all programs earn their star rating based only on the two components that give parents the best indication of quality:
  • Staff education
  • Program Standards
In addition, programs having a two component license can earn a “quality point” for enhanced standards in staff education and program standards.

Why a Star Rated License?

North Carolina’s earliest licensing system didn't offer enough information to parents about the quality of care their program was providing so North Carolina moved to the star rated license system. For example, under the previous system, a center that received an A license was meeting only minimum requirements but parents may have thought this was the highest rating. To minimize confusion and to maximize understanding, a five star licensing system was developed because this type of rating system is typical for many products and services.

An additional benefit of the star rated license system is that it recognized providers for the higher quality care that they provide. Lastly, the star rated license acts as a roadmap for providers to follow as they strive to improve the quality of their care.

How are the Stars Determined?

The two components of the star rated license have a range of one to seven points. Listed below is the breakdown for the number of stars received based on the total points earned .

Number of Stars Received Total Points Earned on a Two Component License
Star Image 1 - 3 Points
Star Image Star Image 4 - 6 Points
Star Image Star Image Star Image 7 - 9 Points
Star Image Star Image Star Image Star Image 10 - 12 Points
Star Image Star Image Star Image Star Image Star Image 13 - 15 Points

Three Star Example

A program scores 4 points in program standards and 4 points in education standards, and 1 quality point. The total is 4 + 4 + 1 = 9 points. The program would get a three-star rating under the two component system.

Three Star Example
Program Standards 4 Points
Education Standards 4 Points
Quality Point 1 Points
Total Score 9 Points
Star Score Star Image Star Image Star Image

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