Our Mission

BrightStars helps families in Rhode Island access QUALITY child care, early learning, and school-age programs. We help child care providers learn about best practices in early learning and apply them to the care children receive. We recognize program quality and give parents information to make choices about their children’s care and education.

General Questions

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems exist in many states across the country and measure program quality within a framework of research-based standards. A significant and growing body of research has demonstrated that sustained enrollment in high quality early learning and education programs leads to improved outcomes in several domains for children – particularly children with high needs including low income children, children with disabilities, English Language Learners, and children in the child welfare system. Quality Rating and Improvement Systems help support programs so that all children can enter Kindergarten ready to succeed.

Like many states across the country, Rhode Island is committed to high quality early childhood care throughout the state and in all types of settings. BrightStars is Rhode Island’s Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System. BrightStars helps early care, education and school-age programs learn about best practices and apply them to the care children receive. BrightStars also helps families in Rhode Island assess quality early care, education and school-age programs.

All licensed early care and education providers, public school programs approved by the Basic Education Plan at the RI Department of Education and stand-alone licensed programs in afterschool settings are eligible to participate. This includes child care centers, preschools in public schools, family child care homes, and stand-alone licensed school-age child care programs.

Support in setting and achieving quality improvement goals and accessing state resources.

Support to market or promote your program, including parent brochures, marketing materials, and access to the BrightStars logo. BrightStars programs are also featured on our website, www.BrightStars.org.

Priority referral to parents searching for care through our online and phone-based referral services.

State licensing through the RI Department of Human Services (DHS) and Public School Basic Education Plan Compliance requirements establish the foundation for operating early care, education and school-age programs. These regulations specify the minimum standards that must be met to operate legally, and are the foundation of a quality rating and improvement system. Higher levels in quality rating systems recognize programs for exceeding basic regulatory requirements and implementing practices that research shows are best for children.

Yes, a program’s star rating is posted on the DHS website and all programs are included in the searchable database used by families when looking for early care, education or afterschool care. Programs are also required to prominently post a certificate in each building. Certificates includes the program’s star rating.

Participation & Application

There is no fee to participate in BrightStars.

You can access the application on our website www.BrightStars.org or by calling our office at 401-739-6100.

Yes, our BrightStars Navigators are able to come out to your site to assist you with the application. Call 401-739-6100 to learn more. 

Assessment Questions

No, BrightStars assigns assessors to site observations based on their training and availability; programs cannot choose their assessor. In addition, BrightStars assessors must periodically visit programs in pairs or groups as part of their training and ongoing commitment to reliability. Assessors strive to be as unobtrusive as possible.

BrightStars encourages programs to use the Environment Rating Scales as part of a holistic self-improvement process. Programs will want to be sure they use the most updated versions of the tools, and to print out a copy of the “Notes for Clarification” for each tool and keep these with the tool itself.  It is also critical to communicate with all staff throughout the preparation process so that all program teachers and assistants can feel confident that they understand the assessment process.

At 3 Stars and above assessors will observe one third of pre-school classrooms and one third of infant toddler classrooms, on multiple days if necessary, to complete necessary site visits. Classrooms are randomly selected.

This is one possibility. If multiple classrooms are to be observed it is possible that assessors may arrive on different days within the site visit window to observe, that multiple assessors may arrive to assess different classrooms at the same time, or that multiple assessors may observe more than one classroom.

BrightStars assessors will aim to arrive when most children are in attendance, in their regular classroom, with their regular teacher. Assessors will always have identification and will ask to speak to the program director or on-site contact before asking to be escorted to the randomly selected classroom. Random selections are made in advance of the assessor’s arrival onsite.

In addition, the assessor(s) will always stay with the selected group, including observing outdoor play and routines like meals and toileting. The ERS observation will last for 3 hours or until the classroom’s day ends if the program operates for less than 3 hours. No assessor completes more than one ERS observation on any given day, so once the observation and review of child files (if applicable) is complete, the assessor will notify the program contact that they are departing.

Quality Improvement

A Quality Improvement Plan, or QIP, is a document that all BrightStars participating programs will complete.  The plan outlines the action steps that your program will take to improve quality.

The QIP is written within three months of the Feedback visit.  From that point on it is intended to be a living document that is updated as needed in your personal files.  An updated copy of the QIP is sent with the annual report.

You can increase at any time. You can have two additional ERS conducted in your program year.

Once you have evaluated your program, decided the areas that you need to improve, and made the necessary changes, you can complete star rating increase paperwork. You will only need to submit the evidence for the standards that you wish to have re-evaluated. You can contact your BrightStars Navigator for the Star Rating Increase Paperwork.

You renew at the end of 3 years participation for BrightStars.  In order to renew the participating program must complete a new application.  If the program is applying for 3-, 4-, or 5-Stars ERS will be completed.