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What is Keystone STARS?

What is Keystone STARS?

HiMama's child care app was developed with Pennsylvania's Keystone STARS program in mind. Our app's powerful documentation, family engagement, and learning and development capabilities help many centers in Pennsylvania improve practices in key areas and empower teachers in the process.

The Keystone STARS program, which stands for Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources was introduced in 2002 by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) to improve, support, and recognize a continuous quality improvement efforts of the early learning programs in Pennsylvania.

The Keystone STARS program is managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and is further administered by six “Regional Keys” or child care resource developers in the state of Pennsylvania. A Keystone STARS designation informs parents and caregivers that their children are in a safe, positive environment that supports their current and future academic and personal growth.

Why is Keystone STARS important?

A child’s early education is crucial to his/her personal development and future academic success. Keystone STARS sets requirements for early childhood educators to promote the most effective and beneficial learning environment in a safe and positive setting for children. Children who attend quality early learning programs benefit in several ways, such as:

  • enter kindergarten ready to learn and have an easier time adjusting to change
  • perform better in school, both academically and socially
  • are more likely to graduate high school, attend college/university and succeed their future career
keystone STARS Penssylvania

What are Keystone STARS requirements?

The program’s STAR levels are based on the quality standards in four key areas with requirements increasing in each area for each STAR level.

  1. Staff education - early childhood educators have appropriate training, experience and knowledge for working with young children
  2. Learning environment - early childhood center/program has a variety of materials and activities for each age level that makes it possible for children to expand their learning on a daily basis
  3. Leadership and management - early childhood center/program has solid and well established business practices to ensure child's optimal safety and effective early learning
  4. Family and community partnerships - early childhood center/program encourages parents, caregivers and community members to become a part of the child's learning

A program can earn and progress from STAR 1 to a STAR 4 level. At each level, a center has to meet certain research-based best practices, where each STAR level builds on the previous one.

HiMama + Keystone STARS

Numerous early childhood programs in Pennsylvania use HiMama in their licensed child care facilities to meet expectations set out by the Keystone STARS program. Each program applies HiMama in different ways to assist them with alignment to the core foundations of: staff education, learning environment, leadership and management, and family/community partnerships.

How your center chooses to use HiMama will vary based on the unique circumstances of your community, families, educators and attending children. However, we’ve provided some guidance on how HiMama will assist your early childhood program in meeting the expectations set out by the four foundations of the Keystone STARS program.

Staff Qualifications & Professional Development The early childhood educators have appropriate training, experience and knowledge for working with young children.
  • Staff qualifications represent best practices for the early learning field
  • Directors & staff continuously participate in professional growth and development activities
  • Increased annual hours of training
  • Enables staff to create and deepen relationships with families by using technology to communicate learning in the classroom
  • Staff is applying mobile technology in the classroom to better align with expectations of the families
  • Provides professional growth and development activities, through numerous HiMama resources, including weekly blog articles, weekly podcasts for leaders in early childhood education, white papers and reports
  • Early Learning Program The early childhood program has a variety of materials and activities for each age level , which allows children to expand their learning abilities on the daily basis.
  • Assessment of the child is completed and shared with parents 3 times a year
  • Use the PA Early Learning Standards to develop curriculum and assessment
  • Independent evaluation of classroom setup and learning activities using a standardized tool (Environment Rating Scale)
  • Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood is accessible for child care and early learning programs directly through the HiMama app, enabling assistance with lesson planning, developmental observations, online portfolios and development reports
  • HiMama electronic portfolios and development assessment reports can be shared with parents on an as-needed basis or by the schedule set by the early learning center / program
  • Visual documentation of classroom activities assists in evaluation of classroom setup and learning activities
  • Leadership & Management The early childhood center has a set of established business practices to ensure child’s safety and optimal early learning
  • An operational business plan, risk management plan, strategic plan, and financial review by a CPA are completed
  • A written code for professional staff conduct is instituted
  • Children’s health and well- being is tracked through HiMama app, including illnesses and injuries
  • HiMama has created a parent handbook template that includes risk management strategies and communication plans
  • Components of staff performance can be evaluated through the HiMama app, including classroom documentation quality and interactions with families
  • Partnerships with Family & Community The early childhood program encourages parents, caregivers and community members to become a part of the child's learning
  • Implemented activities to meet IEP/IFSP goals
  • Implemented policies regarding parent engagement and partnership in the planning and decision making for the program
  • The program offers parents an individual meeting about transition and develops and shares a plan for child transition with parents and stakeholders
  • HiMama enables early childhood programs to connect parents with the classroom by inviting them to participate in children’s experiences and in turn build all around trusting partnerships
  • Parents receive individual updates and reports about their child’s experience and development in the early childhood program, including assessments to reflect on a child’s readiness for transitions to new programs or into school age programs

  • How do I find the closest Keystone STARS program?

    To find a Keystone STARS program near you, a parent or caregiver can visit Pennsylvania’s COMPASS website, click on “Find a Provider” and select the option they are looking for in a center. The advanced search functionality not only allows you to select providers by age and location, but also by program, schedule, environment, transportation and available financial assistance.

      HiMama makes documentation and reporting of children’s learning and development in alignment with Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood quick and easy so that educators can spend less time on documentation and paperwork and more time with children. Learn how HiMama can help you align to Pennsylvania quality guidelines without all the paperwork and late nights.