Solomon-Mehaffie bill seeks to help parents deciding on child care

HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and Thomas Mehaffie, R-Dauphin, today announced they introduced legislation to bring clarity to parents in the process of choosing where to send their children for child care.

“Parents normally make decisions on child care based on cost and convenience, but they need to add quality to the mix,” said Solomon. “Our legislation requires that all centers post on their public-facing window – and website, if they have one – how many Keystone Stars their center has out of four. This legislation provides much-needed information that increases and improves parent choice, protects our children, and allows the free market to thrive in the economy for child care.”

Keystone STARS is one of the largest and most mature quality rating and improvement systems in the nation. It is an initiative of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning to improve, support, and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania.

The performance standards are grouped into four levels. Each level builds on the previous and it utilizes research-based best practices to promote quality early learning environments and positive child outcomes. The standards address staff qualifications and professional development, the early learning program, partnerships with family and community, and leadership and management.

Mehaffie said, “Deciding which child care center to use is not an easy one. Parents want to know their children will be well taken care of and safe. The Keystone Stars ratings play an important role for many parents in choosing day care for their little ones, and they shouldn’t have to search hard to determine the quality of their local centers.”

In the past, child care programs had to sign up to be part of the rating system. In August, all licensed childcare centers that met the state’s basic health and safety requirements became part of the Keystone STARS system. With that, all centers not participating in the program before are default Star 1, the lowest rung on the quality ladder.