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STARS FAQs

STARS Frequently Asked Questions

NEW FAQs/Updates will be posted directly to the category to which they fit. Please make sure to go through all of the FAQs when checking this page for updates.

General Program FAQs

Q: What happens with consulting/coaching if a program is placed on hold for any reason?

A: Programs participating in STARS can be put on "Hold Status" at any time for the following reasons; significant program changes or staff changes, or negative licensing action,. If a program is on hold, this does not mean that the consulting/coaching relationship ends. The program can still request assistance from their STARS Consultant or Pyramid Model coach to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. The visits may look different depending on the nature of the hold status, but it is important for the program to know that their supports remain in place.

Q: If a provider gets an assessment score required for a higher level than they are applying for, do they have to have an assessment at that higher level?

A: *ERS* – all ERS assessments (ECERS-R; ITERS-R; FCCERS-R) must occur each time at STAR level 3-5, regardless of previous scores met (i.e. if the score for STAR 3 meets the criteria for STAR 4, the assessment must still occur at STAR 4).
*BAS/PAS* – must occur each time at STAR levels 3-5, unless a prior rating score meets the criteria of a higher STAR level (i.e. if the score for STAR 3 meets the criteria for STAR 4). In those cases the program would not be required to have a new BAS/PAS assessment when applying for a higher STAR level within that calendar year, unless there have been significant programmatic or staff changes.

Q: What is the process for having an assessor come to my program?

A: Keep in mind that the time from when the assessment is scheduled to the time you get your summary report will be a lengthy process. It is important to plan ahead. You may request your assessment only once you have met all the other criteria for STAR Level, 3, 4, or 5, depending on what level you are working toward. Once your assessment is complete you may apply for STAR Level, 3, 4, or 5 only if your assessment results meet the average facility score defined in the criteria and you have met all other criteria. Quality Improvement Plans and budgets should reflect your assessment summary results. If a program cancels their assessment for any reason, there is not a guarantee that the assessment can take place in time for the application due date.

Q: What is the Quality Improvement Plan supposed to look like?

A: The intention of the Quality Improvement Plan is to support providers as they plan to advance to the next STAR level, or to maintain a STAR level. The Quality Improvement Plan is informed by the various tools such as ERS, PAS/BAS, The Knowledge Base, individual professional development plans, or STARS criteria. There is a Quality Improvement Plan form in the STAR kit.  Only the approved Quality Improvement Plan form template will be accepted.

Q: If I change my licensing status, can I still participate in STARS?

A: A change in category will not indicate forfeiture, as long as the provider wants to remain in the program and participate, meeting expectations for the appropriate category of licensure.  STARS specialists must be informed in writing of any significant change, as well as a request to remain in STARS to Quality.

Q: If I sell my program, can the program still participate in STARS?

A: The following must occur for STARS programs which are being sold:

  • A written request must be sent to the STARS Program Specialists, who will make a determination of whether the program will be allowed to remain in STARS.
    • This request must provide assurances that all STARS criteria will be met and/or maintained.
    • The STARS Program Specialists will respond in writing within 30 business days of the written request from the provider giving a determination on whether participation in the field test will be allowed to continue or not.
  • QAD must be contacted, as ownership changes require a change in the PV#.
    • A provisional license will be issued, which will not affect quarterly incentives, but could potentially have an impact on scholarship bonuses as these cannot be paid out to a program holding a provisional license. Scholarship bonuses are also affected by the timing within the quarter when licenses are updated and payment schedules in CCUBS. Scholarship bonuses are not retroactive. If a program has changed ownership & is holding a provisional license at the time payment is to be made or the license change within the quarter (or next) is not timed with payments, the program assumes responsibility for the loss of the scholarship bonus.
  • New ownership also will mean a change in the EIN for tax purposes, so an accountant should be consulted. Neither ECSB nor QAD will answer tax related questions.
  • A change in ownership may result in ECSB scheduling assessments to ensure program quality is being maintained. A change may also result in ECSB requesting further documentation of compliance with STARS criteria.

Q: Can a program stay in STARS with a new director?

A: Yes. A new director may be on a training plan just like any other new hire within 30 days of their start date. QAD must also be informed as soon as possible in order to update licensing information. The new director will also need to update the Program Profile and Director of Record on the STARS Application and Approval site once QAD has updated the new director’s information. A change in director may result in ECSB scheduling assessments to ensure program quality is being maintained. A change may also result in ECSB requesting further documentation of compliance with STARS criteria.

Q: Can my program continue participation in STARS if our location or physical space changes?

A: If a STARS program moves from one location to another, STARS specialists, consultants, and coaches must be notified as well as working with Child Care Licensing.  Change in location does not mean that a program can no longer participate in STARS; however a program may go back to STAR Participant status and must re-apply for STAR levels.  The program must have a new baseline assessment.  If a program moves from one location to another, it is possible that they may receive a provisional license from Child Care Licensing, which may affect percent bonus payments if a program is at STAR 2 or above.  If a program has not yet achieved a STAR level, they must still notify STARS specialists and coaches of their program move so that a baseline assessment can be scheduled.

Q: If a program wants to stay at a certain level, do they have to reapply, and if so, how often?

A: If a participant chooses to remain at a specific level, they will need to re-apply and submit all required documents for that level yearly. Assessments will also occur at STAR 3 and above annually (once a program has been at STAR 5 for one year, they may opt to have assessments every other year).

Training FAQs

Q: I have copies of my stars training certificates from another state. Will these trainings count towards my STARS in MT?

A: No, each STARS or QRIS program is different in every state. We want participants to know about the MT STARS program which is covered in the required STARS to Quality Essentials training.

Q: If I have a B.A. or are in school to obtain my B.A. degree in Early Childhood, do I still have to take Inclusion I & II?

A: Yes, Inclusion I & II still need to be taken unless proof of a college course specific to inclusive care has been successfully completed. College courses that embed inclusive practices do not qualify for this requirement.  EDEC 340 is an acceptable equivalent to these courses.  The transcript showing course completion with a passing grade must be uploaded as evidence.

Q:Will my college Serv Safe Food Safety and Microbiology Course be sufficient for the Serv Safe training requirement?

A: If the ServSafe food safety is the same as provided through the MT Extension offices or your local health department it can count. The syllabus would need to be reviewed to ensure that the material is the same.

Q: Who is required to take the Medication Administration 2 course (Medication Administration 1 is now a licensing required course)?

A: Individuals noted below must complete Medication Administration 1 prior to enrolling in Medication Administration II.  Both of these courses must be completed prior to enrolling in Medication Administration Refresher.

Centers: The director and all primary caregivers must take Medication Administration 2 if medication is administered in the program. 

Non-primary caregivers may administer ONLY non-ingestible OTC medications (such as sun screen and diaper rash cream) if they do not take the courses. 

Primary caregivers will be responsible for making sure that the required consent (Non-Ingestible Over-the-Counter Medication Authorization Form) is on file for each child and that these medications are stored properly and are available (as provided by the parent and stored by the program) for use by a non-primary caregiver.

FAMILY/GROUP PROGRAMS: The Director and ACG’s must take the Medication Administration trainings, regardless of who administers medication.

ALL PROGRAMS: If a program does not administer medications at all, the Director must still complete the required Medication Administration trainings and a policy stating that medications are not administered at the facility must be uploaded at each of those criteria in the application.

Individuals who take Medication Administration will be required to take a refresher course every 3 years.  The refresher course must be completed within 3 years of the date Medication Administration II was completed.

If an employee is a parent of a child enrolled in a program, and has not taken the Medication Administration, they are allowed to administer medication only to their own child.  Appropriate licensing regulations such as: have a signed authorization on file, medication in a container with the prescription label or directions  for use (for OTC’s), record giving the medication on the Medication Administration Log (signed by the administering parent), and a Special Needs Health Care Plan on file for the child, when appropriate, should be followed.

Medication Administration I and II and Medication Administration Refresher are available through www.ChildCareTraining.org.  

Q: For Preschool training, if a provider is enrolled in a program for college credit, can they be waived from the Preschool course?

A: If the program enrolled in results in achieving at least a Level 4 on the Career Path, it can be used as an equivalent to the Preschool Caregiver Course requirement. The coursework would need to be college based. To be considered “enrolled in” the program would have to be completed within a reasonable amount of time from the request to waive the class (no more than 2 years).

Q:For I/T Certification Course: If a facility serves ages 2 and up, are staff required to attend the I/T or the Preschool course if they are serving 2 & 3 year olds?

A: Programs need to consider the developmental levels of the children in their care. Developmental needs are individualized, and not all 2 year olds are alike. As a result, a program may want to consider sending some staff to the Infant Toddler course, and some staff to the Preschool course. The program would be expected to work with their coach to identify the best option for their program and then document the decision and justify why the decision was made. For Family & Group Home providers, both courses need to be taken. Consideration for which course is taken first could be based on the majority of the children in care currently. Family and group home providers will have up to one (1) year to complete the other course in order to maintain a STAR Level 3. This will need to be included in the provider’s Professional Development Plan, and turned in to ECSB with the required documents for STAR Level 3. ECSB will be tracking this to ensure the class is completed within one (1) year.

Q: Can providers pay the R&R to offer additional STARS courses, on top of what they already have scheduled?

A: This is a negotiation that can occur with individual R&R agencies. The state, of course, is interested in R&R’s providing services in the interest of all providers, and would expect R&R’s to consider this in their decision making about this option.

Q: When can a Director train their staff on a required STARS training?

A:

  • They have attended a train the trainer event preparing them for serving as a trainer in a specific curriculum such as the Certified Infant Toddler Course and they are in contract through a CCR&R to provide this training in a community
  • They have been contracted with by the state and participated in necessary reliability or certification training to provide statewide training.
  • They are employed on a part time basis through the Child Care Resource & Referral Agency for purposes of offering training on their behalf.
  • In all situations, the state must determine appropriateness of Director involvement in training implementation, and Director’s cannot train only their staff in a separate training for the purposes of STARS required courses; however, if staff members from a Director’s facility participate in a community/state training in which their Director is the trainer as described above, this is acceptable.

Staff Requirement FAQs

Q: How long will providers have to get new staff caught up to speed on requirements in order to maintain a current STAR level?

A:

  • Programs which are currently at a STAR 1 have a 6 month transition period from date of hire for new staff to fulfill STAR 1 criteria in order to keep their current STAR level.
  • Programs which are currently at a STAR 2 have the 6 months from date of hire for new staff to fulfill STAR 1 criteria and 9 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 2 criteria (an additional 3 months beyond the 6 month requirement-not 9 additional months).
  • Programs which are currently at a STAR 3 and above have: 6 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 1 criteria, 9 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 2 criteria, and 12 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 3 criteria (an additional 3 months beyond the 9 month requirement). Additionally for STAR 3, new staff must have completed or be enrolled in the required Infant/Toddler or Preschool Teacher Certification Course within 12 months of hire.
  • Programs which are currently at STAR 4 have: 6 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 1 criteria, 9 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 2 criteria, 12 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 3 criteria, and 18 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 4 criteria.
  • Programs which are currently at STAR 5 have: 6 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 1 criteria, 9 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 2 criteria, 12 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 3 criteria, and 18 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 4 and STAR 5 criteria.
  • All programs are encouraged to utilize the STARS Training Plan for any new staff person in order to track STARS required training. The training plan must either be uploaded at time of STAR level submission for any individual on a training plan, or the information entered into the evidence box of each required training and/or Practitioner Registry criteria.

ECSB recognizes that changes in staff for age groups being worked with happens frequently, especially in Center care. If a staff person begins working with a new age group, we will treat that change as a new employee and will need a training plan for that individual. For example: If a facility is at STAR 3 and one of their Preschool teachers moves out of Preschool to work with Infants/Toddlers, the following would need to happen as far as trainings for the facility to maintain their STAR level (trainings specific to I/T – it is assumed all other trainings are complete): within 6 months of moving to work with infants/toddlers, the Safe Sleep training for STAR 1 would need to be completed; within 1 year the individual needs to be either enrolled in or have completed the Infant Toddler Caregiver Education course (for Primary teachers) for STAR 3. Not following through on this training plan could result in the facility being placed on hold or potentially losing their STAR rating until the plan is fulfilled.  The same process shall occur with role type changes as well.

Q:Can somebody other than the Director of Record take the trainings that are required for a Director (i.e. Assistant Director in charge of licensing take PAS)?

A: Yes, the person responsible for the education staff should take the classes related to the care of the children and the person responsible for administration of the program should attend the Program Administration Scales/Business Administration Scales training. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Director of Record to ensure that all criteria and quality indicators are met around these training requirements.

Workforce Incentives FAQs

Q: Can someone receive Higher Ed Merit Pay and I/T or Preschool in the same year?

A: Yes; however, they cannot receive Higher Ed PDIA (formerly Merit Pay) and the IT or Preschool PDIA if they are taking them for the college coursework recorded in their application for Higher Ed PDIA.  They also may not receive the Infant Toddler and Preschool PDIA at the same time.

Q: Can STARS providers apply for Mini Grants?

A: STARS participants are not eligible for mini grants.

Q: Is there a completion award and continuity of care stipend for the Preschool Caregiver Course?

A: The Preschool Caregiver Course includes a professional development incentive award for successful completion; however, there is no continuity of care stipend available. Please refer to the Workforce Incentives.

Q: How will I get my professional development needs paid for which are required in the STARS program?

A: Workforce Professional Development Incentives are available for individuals to apply to receive funds to support professional development. STARS trainings offered through Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCR&R) will be offered free of charge until further notice.

Incentives and Budget FAQs

Q: How do I complete the columns on the Budget Spreadsheet?

A:  First, make sure you are using the correct form. Go to the STAR Kits to get the most current form. Second, complete the top portion of the form including; PV #, Facility Type, STAR level (applying for), Director Name, Business Name, Address, and your Fiscal Agent’s information if a different individual than the Director. You will notice that the form has automatically entered the budget amounts for you. Thirdly, complete the date range.  Q1 (quarter one) is the first quarter that you will be receiving incentives in, so complete the month and year accordingly.  Ex: October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015.  The date range must be for a full year.

Now you are ready to list your expenses. You must begin with Q1 and complete that quarter separately. The total for Q1 must equal the amount of one quarter’s incentives. The amount must not be under or over by any amount. You will know you entered the correct amount when there is no amount listed in the Over/Under Budget line item.  Now you are ready to complete Q2-Q4 columns. These columns include the planned purchases for the next three quarters and MUST only amount to one quarter’s incentive for each column. If you do not enter at least the minimum amount for Personnel/Staff Costs that is projected on the form it will say “Under Budget” in the Total Budget Column. You can enter in more than the projected amount but not less.  You will notice that the Total Budget column is calculating for you as well.  Make sure that the Sub Total, the Total Budget, and the Allowed Budget match.  There should be no red on the form at all.  If there are any numbers in red, it is incorrect.  Sign the form (an electronic signature can be accepted).

Pyramid Model FAQs

Q: Who is certified to train on the Pyramid Modules?

A: Currently, only those individuals who have taken the "Train the Trainer" training sponsored by the Early Childhood Services Bureau and the Early Childhood Project. Program directors or education coordinators/managers may not train their own staff.

Q: Who is considered the "director" of a program for Pyramid Model training purposes?

  • The person whose responsibilities include supervision of the educational services, guides curriculum and program planning, serves as a resource for education specialists and/or teachers and teacher assistants; analyzes data, completes reports, supervises classroom and other education staff. For example, a Head Start or Early Head Start Executive Director may not be the individual that manages and supervises the early care and education staff and program, that role may have the title of Education Manager or Director of Education.
  • In addition DPHHS Licensing Requirements for Day Care Centers states that “Director” means the person designated on the center application or otherwise by written notice to the department as the person responsible for the daily operation of a day care center. A director is also responsible for implementing appropriate child development principles and knowledge of family relationships in providing daily care to the children cared for in the facility.
  • Talk this over with your coach to determine which person in fits the description of “director” for Pyramid Model implementation.

Q: Where can I find materials and resources that support the Pyramid Model?

Q: Who needs to take Module 3 training?

  • All education staff needs to take the 2-hour Module 3 Overview training for the age group they work with, if they are not taking the full Module 3 trainings. If staff members take the Blended Module 3 training, they do not need to take the Module 3 Overview.
  • The program will identify members of a Behavior Support team that will attend MT Pyramid Model Blended Module 3 training.  Programs and coaches will work together on developing a Behavior Support Team and help owner/directors determine the needs of the family or group home provider.

Q: What happens in the situation where a Pyramid Model training module is offered in multiple sessions and a participant is unable to make one of the sessions?

A: It is up to the local CCR&R to establish a policy about missing a session. It is the participant's responsibility to make a plan with the Pyramid Model coach on how to complete the training.

Q: What are the differences between an internal coach and external coach?

  • An external coach is assigned to the program by the CCR&R.
  • An internal coach is identified by the program, possibly with the help of the Pyramid Model coach, to assist the program in implementing the Pyramid Model

Q: For center based programs implementing the Pyramid Model in STAR Level 3, how are 50% of the classrooms selected?

A: The program director will make this determination, and can work with their coach as well to make this determination.

Q: Is the Pyramid Model training offered for college credit?

A: Pyramid Model trainings offered through the CCR&R agencies are not offered for college credit. All of the trainings are approved by the Early Childhood Project and many CCR&R agencies offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the training.

Q: Who should I contact if I have questions about Pyramid Model?

  • First call your STARS Pyramid Model Coach.
  • Pyramid Model Coaches should call the Pyramid Model State Coordinator.

Q: At STAR Level 3, what does implementing the Pyramid Model mean?

  • Implementation of the Pyramid Model will probably differ somewhat from program to program, as many programs and teachers may already have in place useful strategies to deal with challenging behaviors, but often early childhood settings need additional supports and the Pyramid Model is a systematic way of making certain that you have all of the right supports in place for staff, children and families.
  • Director and staff will communicate with families about the Pyramid Model (Positive Solutions for Families can be used as a resource).
  • An internal (on site) coach will be identified and job description will reflect the new duties.
  • TPOT/TPITOS will be used as assessments and to guide coaching activities.
  • 50% or more of the classrooms will work on implementing the Pyramid Model which first of all includes working toward nurturing and responsive relationships among classroom staff, administration, children and families and having in place a high quality supportive environment. Classroom staff begins to use what was learned in Pyramid Model training and putting it into practice; using Pyramid Model tools (i.e. Inventory of Practices, Benchmarks of Quality, scripted stories, Turtle Technique, visual cues, solutions cards, books to teach social emotional skills, etc.) as well as other appropriate resources. For a complete list of tools, resources, and strategies that support the Pyramid Model go to the www.vanderbilt.edu/csefel and to the TACSEI website www.challengingbehavior.org (the Teaching Tools for Young Children toolkit may be especially helpful).

Q: Do the Pyramid Modules need to be taken in order: Introduction to the CSEFEL Pyramid Model, Module 1, Module 2, Introduction to Module 3, Module 3a (preschool) Module3b (preschool) or I/T Module 3?

A: Yes, Pyramid Model trainings must be taken in order as a series. The Pyramid Model training modules are based on the teaching Pyramid Model of promotion, prevention, and intervention and using evidence based strategies to support children's challenging behavior. Each level of the Pyramid provides the foundation for the next level which can prevent many problem behaviors in early childhood settings. You will need to work with your coach to determine if you need to take the Infant/Toddler Modules, Preschool Modules, or F/GH Modules. If you or someone in your program is not able to take a Module when it is offered in your area, look on the Early Childhood Projects statewide training calendar, it may be offered in a nearby community.

Q: Does an individual have to take the Blended Module 3 if they have taken Preschool Module 3A, 3B, and/or Infant Toddler Module 3?

A: No.  See below.

  1. If a staff person has taken Preschool Module 3a and 3b or Infant/Toddler Module 3, they do not have to take the Blended Module 3 (they are grandfathered in so to speak) Coaching can support and fill in the gaps.   
  2. Going forward new staff :
    1. Module 3 Overview is required for everyone not part of the Behavior Support Team
    2. Blended Mod 3 is required for the Behavior Support Team
  1. If a staff person has taken Preschool Module 3a and 3b or Infant/Toddler Module 3, they do not have to take the Blended Module 3 (they are grandfathered in so to speak) Coaching can support and fill in the gaps.
  2. Going forward new staff :
    1. Module 3 Overview is required for everyone not part of the Behavior Support Team
    2. Blended Mod 3 is required for members of the Behavior Support Team (BST).
    3. Anyone taking Module 3, does not have to take Module 3 Overview.
    4. An individual not on the Behavior Support Team may take Blended Module 3 if the program director and coach agree it would be a worthwhile professional development opportunity for that individual.