QRIS Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the QRIS system changing?
o The federal government requires that each state examine its Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) through a lens of continuous improvement. This means states are always challenging themselves to develop tools not only to improve quality but also to make lasting impacts.
o While the existing system did make quality impacts that were beneficial for participating programs, the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) saw an opportunity to create a system that would appeal to more programs, and thereby increase participation to expand quality care and early education for more children and families. The mandate for continuous improvement challenges states to step outside their comfort zone and examine current practices to determine where opportunities for growth can be found. We are looking closely at the existing QRIS system and gathering feedback from the field to raise quality, accessibility, and support for early childcare and education programs in the state of Alabama.
o All initially licensed providers in good standing will be offered an opportunity to enroll as a participant in the QRIS Program during this fiscal year.
Who is implementing the new QRIS system?
DHR receives federal funding to implement the QRIS system in Alabama. The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) has been selected by DHR to administer the QRIS system in Alabama through an interagency agreement.
How was the new system being developed?
The new QRIS system was developed with consideration of public survey responses from STAR-rated and unrated programs. An advisory council has been created with prominent stakeholders in private childcare, family childcare, Head Start, higher education, advocacy groups, and community leaders. Input from other states regarding the progress of their own QRIS system, as well as ideas from state and national voices, also offer a broader perspective.
What if my STAR Rating is up for annual review or renewal?
All current STAR ratings will be recognized. When the new system rolls out, there will be extensive support to transition successfully to the new system.
Will our program keep our current STAR rating?
All current ratings will be recognized. DHR is examining different criteria for quality, and this may mean that your STAR rating will change depending on the new standards that are adopted. When the new system rolls out there will be extensive support available to early care and education programs so there will be no surprises for those currently enrolled.
Will the new system still be a “STAR” rating?
Yes. QRIS determines a standard of quality and serves as a system of information for families who are selecting from childcare options. Many states use the ‘STAR’ as a recognizable marker of quality for their QRIS programs. A statewide education campaign will showcase the many benefits of continuing to use the ‘STAR’ in Alabama.
What if my program was in the process of preparing for a STAR rating according to the prior system?
If your program was in the process of gathering information for a STAR rating under the old system, please refer to the assessment page on this website to view the new criteria for assessment.
According to the new system, what are the criteria for a STAR 1 rating?
According to the recently revised Child Care Licensing and Performance Standards, licensed centers and homes meet the criteria for a one (1) star rating in Alabama Quality STARS. There are no additional requirements for a STAR 1 Rating. Programs that opted out of the STARs program will not receive the STAR 1 incentive.
If I opted out of STAR 1, can I still apply for a higher STAR rating when the new system is fully implemented?
Yes, programs that are interested in a higher STAR rating may apply, even if they opted out of STAR 1.
When can I apply for a higher STAR rating? Do I need to wait for my annual review or relicensing date?
You may apply for a higher STAR rating assessment at any time during the year. It does not need to be at the time of your annual review or relicensing date.
What about incentive payments? When will I receive it? How many times a year do I receive a payment?
If you have specific questions about STAR incentive payments or have not received your STAR Incentive Payment, please contact DHR Child Care Subsidy at 334-242-1425.
How many times may I request a STAR Rating assessment in a year?
Effective immediately, any program that has already been assessed for a STAR 2 or higher in the newly revised system must wait 12 months (1 year) from the completion date of their previous assessment before they can request another assessment.
If I am not satisfied with the result of my STAR rating assessment, what are my options?
If a provider has a valid dispute with the Alabama Quality STARs Guidelines or the assessment procedure, he or she may appeal to have their STAR rating assessment reviewed following the protocol outlined in Section 13.00 on page 15 of the updated Alabama Quality STARs Guidelines. Otherwise, the provider may apply to participate in the Enhancement program to receive technical assistance and support in implementing quality practices to improve their rating, or they may apply for a new assessment in 6 months.
Where can I complete the Alabama Quality STARs (QRIS) Orientation?
There is a required orientation all providers must complete. This orientation is available on-demand virtually through the AlaCEED platform. Visit the Getting Started page on this website and complete Steps 1 and 2 to start the process to request to be connected to your site in AlaCEED and begin orientation.
How do we apply to the new system?
Please visit the Getting Started page to view the process map, step-by-step instructions, and tutorial videos on how to apply to the new system.
Who do I contact with questions?
For more program information contact:
QRIS Administrator: Kellie Holcomb
For STAR 1 Questions and STAR Rating Incentive Payments contact DHR:
Star 1 Questions: Ask for Licensing
STAR Rating Incentive Payment Questions: Ask for Child Care Subsidy