As part of Keystone STARS Revisioning, OCDEL and stakeholders involved in the process want to make sure that limited resources are being used as effectively as possible to provide quality early learning opportunities especially to at-risk children. As a result, OCDEL is proposing the following adjustments to financial supports:

  • Maintain funding for teacher higher education scholarships (T.E.A.C.H. and Rising STARS Tuition Assistance) and Education and Retention Awards;
  • Maintain STAR 2 tiered reimbursement and merit awards;
  • Increase tiered reimbursements for STAR 3 and 4 programs by 23 percent by shifting resources from merit awards. By shifting these resources to tiered reimbursement, providers will have more flexibility with no grant paperwork (saving time and money). With the 12-month redetermination of children receiving Child Care Works, providers will also experience more stability and less paperwork serving these children. Regional Keys can also direct more resources to supporting quality improvement; and the commonwealth can provide more equitable supports for at-risk children.

The reimbursement gap to cover the cost of quality early learning widens at the higher STAR 3 and 4 levels. Restrictions on merit awards can make it challenging to offset those costs, especially retaining qualified staff.
The current merit award structure has not resulted in a significant higher percentage of children receiving Child Care Works enrolling in Keystone STAR 3 and 4 facilities. In fact, there is such an inequitable distribution of resources for at-risk children that programs serving the minimum percentage of at-risk children receive more than ten times the amount per at-risk child than programs serving 90-100 percent enrolled children with IEPs or receiving Child Care Works subsidy.

March FAQ: When can I see the new indicators? 

  • OCDEL anticipates releasing the new indicators in May 2017. OCDEL understands that there will need to be time for providers, assessors, and other regional partners to become proficient in the new system. Therefore, providers may maintain their 2016-17 STAR level during 2017-18 as they learn the new system.

Visit the Keystone STARS Re-visioning web page for more information.

The Keystone STARS Think Tank is scheduled to reconvene March 27 to receive recommendations from the work groups. Get up to speed on the work of the Indicators, Professional Development, and Communications workgroups, and submit any comments or questions to

This initiative is in part by Pennsylvania’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant. For more information on other initiatives funded by this grant, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

Tags : Keystone STARSKeystone STARS Re-visioningOCDELOffice of Childhood Development and Early LearningPDEPennsylvania Department of Education

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