YoungStar is Wisconsin’s Quality Rating & Improvement System for early care and education programs. We provide one-on-one assistance to help child care programs achieve their goals of providing the highest quality care.

What does YoungStar offer?

Personalized, one-on-one consultation services

A support system for your professional development

Higher priority on DCF’s Child Care Finder webpage

Access to experts in early childhood care and education

Able to accept Wisconsin Shares families

Public recognition of your program’s high quality

Low-cost training opportunities

Every YoungStar-participating child care program is partnered with a YoungStar Technical Consultant (usually called their "TC") who helps the program with all YoungStar services.

Your TC will help you identify goals you have for your program -- your staff's or your own professional development, introducing new developmentally appropriate materials, improving curriculum, or anything else you can think of -- and work with you to create a plan to achieve those goals.

Built into YoungStar are several stepping stones to help you along the way. These include access to low-cost YoungStar professional development trainings, access to experts in early childhood practices, and YoungStar micro-grant funds that can be used for trainings, child materials, improving the care environment, and much more.

The YoungStar Micro-Grant Program ended on June 30, 2021. Contact your local YoungStar office for more details.

Contact your YoungStar office

Your local office will be happy to share more information about YoungStar benefits, programs and
ratings, and answer any questions.

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YoungStar Ratings

YoungStar provides all participating programs with a rating that reflects the program's quality practices. These ratings also help parents connect with high quality programs and have peace of mind that their children are in good hands.

YoungStar ratings are made on a 1-5 Star rating scale and are based upon quality indicators in these general areas:


  • Staff education and training qualifications
  • Learning environment and curriculum
  • Professional and business practices
  • Health and wellness practices

Quick Links

YoungStar Rating Critera

YoungStar Contracts

DCF's YoungStar for Providers Webpage

Contact your local YoungStar office to learn more about YoungStar ratings and how YoungStar can benefit your early care and education program

The Rating Process

Programs can receive a rating in one of three ways. Your TC will help you determine which is right for your program.


Technical Rating: A technically-rated program has the benefit of working with a Technical Consultant to receive expert guidance on any topics related to the child care program, including business practices, professional development, child development, curriculum, environment, and much more. The rating is conducted once every two years, at which time your program must submit documentation of meeting certain requirements, and your Technical Consultant will conduct a “rating visit” to confirm other requirements are being met. Can result in a 1, 2 or 3 Star rating.

Formal Rating: Programs that meet the quality indicators of being eligible for a 4 or 5 Star rating are encouraged to participate in a formal rating to achieve these extra stars. In addition to meeting all technical rating requirements, your program will receive an in-class observation from a trained Environment Rating Scale (ERS) Observer. You are able and encouraged to prepare for your formal rating with help from your Technical Consultant. This process provides you with detailed feedback about areas of strength and room for improvement in your program. Learn more about formal ratings.

Automated Rating: Programs that choose an automated rating do not have the advantage of working one-on-one with a Technical Consultant and are not eligible to receive micro-grants, but can still accept Wisconsin Shares families. To receive an Automated rating, you must submit paperwork to confirm your program meets certain requirements. You will then receive a 2 Star rating regardless of other quality indicators that could earn you more Stars through a technical rating. Automated 4 and 5 Star ratings are possible for programs that are Accredited by certain bodies.

Browse more YoungStar materials

Visit our Resource Center for child care providers to see all our YoungStar Resources, including
rating criteria, contracts, and more.

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SFTA’s Role in YoungStar

SFTA has been with YoungStar since the beginning. We serve as the fiscal agent and subcontract with Wisconsin’s nine CCR&Rs so YoungStar participants receive local service from members of their own communities.

SFTA has an expansive knowledge of YoungStar and its implementation and we are proud to be an active partner of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families as we work toward our shared goal of continuous quality improvement for the children, families, and child care providers of Wisconsin.