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Best Beginnings STARS to Quality


Welcome to the Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program - a continuous quality improvement program for early childhood education in Montana.

Apply for STARS

STARS Site Videos and Resources

Assessment Resources

Standards & Guidance / Procedures






Training Information

Mini Grant Opportunity for STARS Programs

STARS to Quality is offering an outdoor environments grant to enhance outdoor learning time for children in STARS participating facilities. (link the attached document).

**Please Note: an email was sent out to all STARS programs on March 25, 2016 with the following documents: Important grant information, Grant Application, Grant Summary form, Grant purchase list, Dirty Dozen Playground Hazards brochure, MT Playground Information Sheet.  Please check your email to ensure you have received this information.  The application will not be posted on this site.

Any eligible program that applies and is accepted into STARS to Quality by August 1, 2016 is eligible for this mini grant!

The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program is a voluntary quality rating improvement system that aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and early childhood professionals. The Early Childhood Services Bureau has enjoyed watching the program grow and develop with the input from the various stakeholders, and has listened carefully to early childhood professionals, parents, and national experts to provide a strong program, desired by many.

Early childhood stakeholders developed their vision for quality early childhood education in Montana and identified an approach to investing in and ensuring strong quality outcomes for children. These stakeholders included:

  • Montana Early Childhood Advisory Council
  • Montana Child Care Resource & Referral Network Agencies
  • Montana Child Care Association
  • Montana Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Child Care Providers across the State
  • Montana Head Start Association
  • Early Childhood Services Bureau
  • Head Start State Collaboration Office
  • Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems
  • Montana Early Childhood Project
  • Parents
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program
  • Child Care Licensing

About the Program

The quality rating improvement system for Montana has several arms:

  1. Workforce Development
  2. Quality Rating Improvement System
  3. Infrastructure to administer the programs, provide training , coaching, and technical assistance, and to validate the STARS system

Program Essentials

  • 5 STAR System
  • Research based criteria
  • Workforce support through the Montana Early Care and Education Career Path, encouraging professional development along a continuum of training
  • Maintaining quality over time
  • Renewal based on validation of Level and program improvement plan
  • Monetary Incentives for continual program improvement
  • Monetary Incentives based on Level achieved
  • If a program moves down a level, the incentives decrease.
  • Resources, assistance, and support to move through the levels provided by Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the Early Childhood Project, and other state determined resources.
  • Program Assessment Tools are incorporated including:
    • Environment Rating Scales
    • Program and Business Administration Scales

The above assessments are administered by contracted STARS assessors.

  • Pyramid Model: The Preschool Observation tool (TPOT) and The Pyramid Infant Toddler Observation Scale (TPITOS).

These tools are used as part of the coaching experience for programs implementing the Pyramid Model.