Star Rating System & Your Child

The Revised Star Rated License, from (in part)

In 1999, the Division of Child Development (DCD) began issuing star rated licenses to all eligible child care centers and family child care homes. (Note: Religious-sponsored child care programs continue to operate with a Notice of Compliance and will not receive a star rating unless they choose to apply.)

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:

  1. Staff Education
  2. Program Standards
  3. Compliance History

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:

  1. Staff education
  2. Program Standards

In addition, under the two-component license, programs can earn a “quality points” 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 recognizes 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.

Here is an overview of the North Carolina Star Rated License System for families:

For more information on the North Carolina Star Rating System, click here.