Engage in YoungStar

Redirecting to: https://supportingfamiliestogether.org/child-care-providers/youngstar/












There are many ways to improve your program’s quality. Currently, the most prominent way in Wisconsin is to actively engage in YoungStar, Wisconsin’s Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System, which recognizes quality across many domains. Many other programs and initiatives are also happening in Wisconsin to improve the quality of early childhood experiences in more specific ways from early learning standards across developmental domains, to the promotion of physical activity and nutrition to the support of social emotional development.

What is YoungStar?

YoungStar is a program that recognizes quality in early care and education programs and provides supports and resources, such as technical assistance and micro-grants. SFTA manages the YoungStar micro-grants, which you can learn more about on our YoungStar Micro-Grant Program page.

In order to receive reimbursements through Wisconsin’s child care subsidy program, Wisconsin Shares, a program must complete and submit a YoungStar Contract. Early Care and Education programs work with Technical Consultants to engage in efforts to promote their quality and proceed with a process that determines their star rating on a scale from one to five. A program’s annual rating is based upon indicators that are related to four primary areas of quality:

Graduation Cap Education and Training Qualifications
Building Blocks Learning Environment and Curriculum
CalculatorProfessional and Business Practices
AppleHealth and Wellness

Contact your local YoungStar office to speak to a staff member who can answer your questions about YoungStar, OR, check out the video below to hear from Wisconsin providers about their experiences in YoungStar. More videos are available on the SFTA YouTube page.

CLICK on the image below to view this interactive graphic about the benefits of YoungStar participation.


Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) & YoungStar Q & A

(Learn more about the YoungStar transition in this message from the Department of Children and Families).

Q: What is Supporting Families Together Association?

A: Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) is Wisconsin’s statewide member association for organizations and individuals committed to making every early childhood a great one. Our core membership consists of Wisconsin’s Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) and Family Resource Centers (FRCs). As a statewide organization, we positively impact the world of early childhood by ensuring that effective programming is available statewide, resources are strategically leveraged and maximized, and meaningful connections, relationships and systems are built. We do this by providing services and supports, including program management, quality assurance and improvement, organizational development, professional development, systems building and professional networking. Learn more in our brochures, available in English or Spanish.

Q: What does SFTA know about YoungStar?

A: SFTA has been with YoungStar since the beginning. Under the previous contract to administer YoungStar services, we served as the fiscal agent and subcontracted services to Wisconsin’s 10 Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. We have an expansive knowledge of YoungStar and its implementation and we’ve been an active partner in working with the WI Department of Children and Families to continuously improve service delivery. We are honored to continue implementing YoungStar and look forward to the opportunity to grow and evolve in our work alongside both child care programs and the families that they serve.

Q: What role will SFTA play in the future?

A: The WI Department of Children and Families has selected SFTA to implement all YoungStar services. SFTA will be administering YoungStar micro-grants and completing formal ratings. We will be subcontracting with Wisconsin’s nine Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies for all technical consultation services. These agencies are:

We believe that at the heart of YoungStar is quality improvement and we are committed to doing all we can to support child care providers in achieving their quality improvement goals. That’s why we’ll be working very closely with your Technical Consultant. Your Technical Consultant will be your navigator in YoungStar, coordinating with SFTA across services. We are adopting this model so that we can be responsive to your needs and your experience is smooth, positive and successful.

For effective statewide implementation of YoungStar, SFTA will also manage and evaluate processes and outcomes, coordinate professional development for YoungStar staff, and assure quality of services by joining Technical Consultants and ERS Observers periodically on visits to child care programs.

Q: How will I get my YoungStar micro-grant in the future?

A: We have hired micro-grant staff and continue to strengthen our Micro-Grant Program as they administer micro-grants. Your Technical Consultant will continue to work with you to determine how you want to invest your micro-grant in ways that help you achieve your quality improvement goals. SFTA works with your Technical Consultant to purchase items or process a reimbursement to you, depending on how you use your micro-grant. We’ll make sure you Technical Consultant has up-to-date information so that they can answer your questions. However, we’ll be here, too, reaching out when we need to so that we can quickly process your requests and answering any questions that you have. For more information on micro-grants, visit our YoungStar Micro-Grant Program page.

Q: If I’m aiming for a 4 or 5 Star rating, what will my formal rating experience be like?

A: You’ve worked so hard to get where you are in going for 4 and 5 Stars and we are eager to see you succeed. We will be a partner to you in achieving a higher rating. Your Technical Consultant will now score the entire YoungStar Evaluation Criteria. SFTA’s team of Environment Rating Scales (ERS) Observers will come to your program to score the appropriate Environment Rating Scale in your program.

We know that the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) ask a lot of early care and education professionals. That’s why we’ll be working with your Technical Consultants so that they can best prepare you for your observation(s). Our team will go through rigorous reliability measures, so that you can be confident that your score reflects the intentions of the ERS.

Above all, we will treat you with respect, and honor the work that you’ve put into your quality improvement. We’ll be here to celebrate with you in your successes and we’ll also be a source of support if you have a little more work to do before you reach your goals.

Lastly, we will be asking you how you think your formal rating experience went, so that we can continually make improvements to our processes. Please see our Formal Rating webpage for further information.

Q: My program is located in Milwaukee County, what does this mean for me?

A: 4C for Children will now accept all YoungStar Contracts or Renewals for Milwaukee County. If you’ve already sent your contract or renewal to the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, that’s okay. We will coordinate to process your paperwork and get your services started. 4C for Children will be providing all technical consultation services in the county. 4C for Children also serves Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington Counties and will continue to do so. Participating programs in Milwaukee County who are not currently receiving technical consultation from 4C for Children will receive additional communication from their current Technical Consultant and/or staff from 4C for Children.

Q: Who are the people that make up the team at SFTA?

A: Our team recently expanded to 25 wonderful team members, many of whom play a part in YoungStar services. Please visit our staff page to get to know the SFTA team a little better!

Make the Most of Your YoungStar Services

Browse These Tips
  • Individualized technical consultation is a FREE service offered by YoungStar. When completing your YoungStar contract, be sure to select the appropriate option that includes technical consultation.
  • Prepare for your time with your technical consultant so that you and your program get the most of this experience:
    • Do your self-assessment (Group or Family before your first consultation visit)
    • Think ahead about how to engage your staff in consultation
    • Between visits, make sure you complete your next steps
    • Remember that you can call or email your consultant anytime
  • Create your Registry Program Profile if you haven’t already
  • Regularly Update your Program Profile

YoungStar Technical Consultants are there for You!

YoungStar Technical Consultants are a major resource to programs interested in improving their quality. They have a wide range of experiences and expertise and have supporter many early care and education programs across the state. Here are few words from technical consultants across Wisconsin:

The successful child care provider or director wears many hats: early childhood educator, safety and health administrator, business manager, and many others. We understand that you will have your hands full. Let technical consultants help guide you through the necessary steps in improving the quality of your program in these areas.

Jessie Millington, YoungStar Technical Consultant, Northwest Connection Family Resources

Take advantage of the opportunity to participate in YoungStar by using the technical consultation time to the fullest extent possible. Be an active participant and plan what you would like to do with the time you are given with your technical consultant. Seize opportunities to learn and grow as a professional; credit-based education provides the foundation for a program where children learn and providers flourish.

Carrie Steinke & Lori Shafranski, YoungStar Technical Consultants, Childcaring, Inc.

I would remind providers that sustainable quality happens over time. Think big and start small—baby steps will take you where you want to be. Prioritize areas for improvement and take one step at a time.

Connie Frey, YoungStar Technical Consultant, Child Care Resource & Referral, Inc.

The main reason I enjoy consulting is that when providers develop their skills the children they care for develop a more solid foundation to become life-long learners and grow into productive members of society. I have watched as providers begin to realize the importance of their role in a child’s life, that they can impact who and what that child becomes.

Mary Olson, YoungStar Technical Consultant, Childcaring, Inc.

These providers are such wonderful people, who keep the best interests of the children and families they serve at the forefront of everything they do. They give, and give, and give, and they are in the front lines every day, doing the best they can to take care of our kids. That is why I enjoy what I do.

Robin Mainhardt, YoungStar Technical Consultant, Northwest Connection Family Resources

Through the services I provide I see children develop increased social skills and gain access to new opportunities to become engaged and appropriately challenged in their learning environments. I also see the individual needs and goals of children begin to be intentionally planned, observed, and recorded, to give children responsive, meaningful care.

Amy Alt, YoungStar Technical Consultant, 4-C 

Resources to Help you Succeed

Tips and Tools

Samples of Success

  • CAP CARE rises to 4 Stars: With the onset of YoungStar for school-age programs and brand new to the process, CAP CARE decided to focus on ensuring that they received a 3 star rating in their first year of participation… Read More
  • One Amazing Teacher!: From the start, Sheri Johnson just knew that she would some day educate and inspire young children. Sheri has grown into a remarkable teacher that started as a young child playing “School” with her friends sitting in desks, as she stood as the teacher in the front of the room… Read More
  • ¡Sí, se puede!: Ivelisse Crespo came to the United States from Puerto Rico with a college degree and a passion for working with young children. After struggling to find work as a non-English speaker, Ivelisse eventually decided to start her own child care program… Read More
  • 4 Stars and Still Rising: When Kelly Jensen, program director and administrator of Sand Box Child Care & Preschool, first learned of Wisconsin’s quality rating and improvement system, YoungStar, she immediately knew what her approach would be: proactivity and positivity… Read More

Take Part in Other Initiatives and Opportunities for Quality

Network & Partner
  • Child Care Information Center. The Wisconsin Child Care Information Center (CCIC) is a mail-order lending library and information clearinghouse serving anyone in Wisconsin working in the field of child care and early childhood education.
  • Active Early & Healthy Bites. Active Early & Healthy Bites are companion, Wisconsin-based initiatives with developed resources for improving childhood physical activity and nutrition. Active Early aims to increase the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity for young children, while Healthy Bites aims to support environments, practices and policies that promote nutrition.
  • Wisconsin Pyramid Model for Social Emotional Competence. The Pyramid Model is an evidence-based framework that prevents challenging behaviors and promotes healthy social and emotional development by supporting positive relationships, creating engaging environments, providing concrete teaching strategies, and when truly necessary, creating individualized interventions for children.
  • Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards. The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards specify developmental expectations for children from birth through entrance to first grade. The standards reflect attention to all the domains of a child’s learning and development.
  • Wisconsin’s Child and Adult Care Food Program. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) promotes healthy and nutritious meals for children and adults in day care by reimbursing participating day care operators for their meal costs. The Program operates in regulated child care centers, outside-school-hours care centers, family day care homes, and some adult day care centers. Group child care programs will work directly with the WI Department of Instruction. Family child care programs can choose a food program sponsor.
  • Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families page. This approach provides a framework for providers to successfully implement child abuse and neglect prevention strategies.

Access More Resources

Home & Classroom Learning
  • Easter Seals, through support from the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, provides parents with FREE access to the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®, Third Edition, one of many general developmental screening tools. Use this screening resource with the families of children in your care. Be sure to encourage families to not only share the completed questionnaire and results with you, but also their child’s pediatrician.
  • Get Ready to Read is a website full of resources focused on supporting literacy and math from the earliest years.
  • Math at Play is a multimedia resource for people who work with children from birth to age five. Its focus is the exploration of early mathematical development.