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Kentucky Wants Child Care Centers Rated For Quality

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Credit Creative Commons

Kentucky child care programs that accept Child Care Assistance Program subsidies must begin participating in a rating system by mid-August 2015, according to the state agency that provides oversight for the programs.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services said in a release that this should help improve quality child care across the state.

But some say they've jumped the gun.Child care centers can earn up to four stars for meeting certain goals—like by promoting family involvement or having certain staff/child ratios —in theSTARS for KIDS NOW program. 

It’s currently a voluntary program and a majority of providers do not participate, said Susan Vessels, executive director of Community Coordinated Child Care, known as 4-C.

Related: Following Expansion, Kentucky Child Care Subsidy Gained 3,200 Kids In About a MonthThat's also true when considering data from the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, which shows 78 percent of child care facilities in Jefferson County choose to participate in the STARS program. Statewide, it's 63 percent, according to the 2014 report. While Vessels said she agrees with the cabinet that Kentucky needs more quality child care programs, she also said providers need higher reimbursements to meet the goals. "We're working in a state right now where the CCAP rates that child care providers are getting paid haven't been touched since 2006," she said. The new ratings requirements could put some providers out of business, Vessels said.

Also, she said, there are some registered child care providers that receiveCCAP ;reimbursements but aren't regulated like licensed and certified child care centers. None of these registered providers currently participate in the voluntary STARS program and, at this point, they won’t have to when the regulation changes in August, said a spokeswoman for the cabinet.

“That doesn’t seem to be a very level playing field for either families and kids or child care providers,” said Vessels. 

Vessels also said she understood that the state was redesigning the rating system.

But the state spokeswoman confirms that those licensed and certified providers receiving CCAP will have to participate in the current STAR system.

Copyright 2014 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

Devin Katayama is an award-winning journalist who hosts the midday for WFPL Louisville Public Media. He's also the station's education reporter.