Within the state of Pennsylvania, every childcare center falls under the guidance of Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). OCDEL is a collaborative effort between the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. Together, the two departments set the industry standards for every licensed care center in the state. Each calendar year, the state comes out to ensure that are standards are being met and laws being observed. Passing the yearly certification is a state minimum when it comes to childcare in Pennsylvania.
The Keystone STARS Program is a program designed to take the state minimums and through systematic approaches of assessing, improving, and communicating, raising the bar of the level of care provided by a center. In addition to the state inspections and certifications, childcare centers that participate in the Keystone STARS program have another set of expectations to meet or exceed.
The Keystone STARS program focuses on:
T — Training and Professional Development
A – Assistance
R – Resources
S – Support
Participation in the Keystone STARS Program is entirely voluntary. Through an application, any childcare center in the state of Pennsylvania can apply to be a STARS certified center. Minimum requirements of participation are that the center is in good standing with their state certification, which qualifies a center as a STAR 1 childcare center. There are four levels of the STARS Program, with a 4-STAR program being of the highest caliber of care. Each level requires a little more effort on the part of the center to meet the requirements than the level before.
Here at Learning Ladder Academy, we are proud to be a Keystone STARS 4-STAR center. We take great pride in reaching beyond the minimum requirements set by the state to make our center a place where our youngest learners can grow and thrive. We are always looking for better ways to serve our students and their families.
Experts in the Early Childhood industry report that children who are enrolled in an early learning center often have an advantage in kindergarten over peers who are not. Above skills like learning numbers, letters and shapes, early childhood educators also prepare their students with necessary social skills. Being able to interact with peers and follow a basic classroom schedule are very desired skills by kindergarten teachers!