Providers who want to earn a 4 or 5 Star in YoungStar must either be accredited by one of the entities accepted by YoungStar, or undergo formal rating, where an Environment Rating Scale or “ERS” observation is completed to assess the quality of their program’s environment. Learn more about the ERS on the Environment Rating Scales Institute website.
Hear a 5-minute synopsis of what to expect during a formal rating:
Meet SFTA’s ERS Observers below: (SFTA also has additional staff support for formal rating when observation requests are high in volume).
|Trained & Reliable in ITERS-R, ECERS-R & FCCERS-R
|Trained & Reliable in ITERS-R, ECERS-R, FCCERS-R & SACERS-U
|Trained & Reliable in ITERS-R, ECERS-R & FCCERS-R
Formal Rating Resources & Tools
- Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale, Revised Edition (ITERS-R)
- Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, Revised Edition (ECERS-R)
- Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS-R)
- School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale (SACERS)
- All About Environment Rating Scales and Formal Rating in YoungStar: Tips for formal rating preparation, Wisconsin Environment Rating Scale interpretations, and more.
- Child Care Resources, Inc. Tip Sheets for Child Care Professionals
- Attend a training. See the YoungStar training calendar.
High Impact Points in Formal Rating
What to Expect: A Walk-Through of the Formal Rating Process
- Your ERS Observer will call you to introduce themselves and exchange contact information (phone number and e-mail address).
- They will set an observation window with you. The observation window is four weeks beginning on a Monday and ending on a Friday.
- You will determine your blackout dates – a maximum of five days during the four-week window when the ERS Observer will not visit.
- Your ERS Observer will confirm classrooms, teachers, ages of children, and the ERS tool(s) to be used.
- Your ERS Observer will discuss with you the daily/weekly schedule of your program such as meal and nap times, regularly scheduled field trips, etc.
- Your ERS Observer will go over the observation process (learn more about what to expect from your ERS Observer during the formal rating observation here).
- Your ERS Observer will discuss potential dates for the final feedback session. Encourage staff involved in the ERS Observation(s) to be present during this feedback session if schedules allow.
- Your ERS Observer will follow-up via e-mail to confirm the final feedback session date and time after confirming with your program’s Technical Consultant.
- Your ERS Observer will be on site for 3 ½ to 5 hours.
- There will be a brief interview before the observation begins (5-10 minutes) so your ERS Observer can ask a few observation-related questions such as the number of children enrolled, oldest/youngest birth dates, children with food allergies, etc.
- Your ERS Observer will complete a minimum of a 3-hour observation using the appropriate rating scale(s) (To be eligible for a formal rating, programs must provide a minimum of two consecutive hours of child care, and observations will be shortened as appropriate for those programs only).
- After the observation, your ERS Observer will interview you or your staff to score rating scale items that were not observed (*SACERS follow-up interview may take place over the phone on the following business day).
- Your ERS Observer will call you to share your observation scores.
- Your ERS Observer will send a follow-up e-mail with your ERS reports for each completed observation.
- The date and time of the final feedback session will be confirmed with you.
- Your ERS Observer(s) and your Technical Consultant will meet with you, and if applicable your staff, to discuss the ERS reports. It may be necessary to have a web-based interaction or phone call with your ERS Observer(s), depending on their schedule and location.
- Your ERS Observer will respond to your questions related to ERS reports and your TC will respond to questions related to the YoungStar Evaluation Criteria.
- Together, you’ll discuss next steps for your program’s quality improvement efforts.
Formal Rating FAQ
When a child care program undergoes formal rating they receive detailed feedback from the ERS Observer about the quality of their program environment as related to the ERS tools used. The program can use this information to highlight their program strengths and work on areas that may benefit from improvement. If a program scores well in a formal rating (averaging over a 4.00 on the ERS tools) they could increase their YoungStar star level to a 4 or 5 Star, which can only be accomplished through accreditation or formal rating. A star level increase also impacts how much money the program receives for children in their care who are enrolled in Wisconsin Shares.
- A high enough education level as a family child care provider, or as a group provider you have high enough education levels among your staff to earn a 4 Star.
- Performed a Self-Assessment of your program.
- Demonstrated an ongoing annual line-item budget, budget review, record-keeping practices and accurate and timely completion of taxes.
- Provided a written copy of employment policies and procedures including job descriptions and hiring practices, personnel policies, salary/benefit schedules, evaluation procedures, staff disciplinary policies, grievance procedures, program policies and staff expectations. (Required for a 4 Star).
- Offered evidence of using Model Work Standards for administration of business including hiring, staffing and business planning. Must be site/location specific. (Required for a 5 Star).
- Served nutritious meals or snacks daily.
Each of these requirements are points that are listed in the Evaluation Criteria can be discussed in greater detail with your Technical Consultant (TC). Your program should always discuss the possibility of a formal rating with your TC initially, as they will help you determine whether your program is eligible.
Your TC is responsible for completing the Evaluation Criteria portion of the rating with your program and should provide you with the necessary documents when you decide to go for a formal rating. These documents include the Wisconsin Interpretations and the Additional Notes for Clarification (see second bullet point below each scale). Before a formal rating, programs should be familiar with the related ERS tools, review the documents provided by their TC and discuss any questions they have with their TCs prior to formal rating. Programs can find further information on preparing for a formal rating here.
Formal rating is approached somewhat differently for different program types. For instance, the type of program affects the ERS tool used in the rating, and the program type, as well as program hours, also affect the ERS Observer’s arrival time. The typical arrival of an ERS Observer to a family child care program (which they would rate using the FCCERS-R tool) or a group program (which they would rate using the ITERS-R and/or ECERS-R tool) is between 7:30 and 9 am. For school-age programs, (rated using the SACERS-U), the ERS Observer’s arrival might be similar to family and group programs in the summer months but during the school year would be about 15 minutes before the program starts receiving children.
Additionally, most group centers receive more than one ERS observation. YoungStar ERS Observers will observe using each type of tool (ITERS-R, ECERS-R, and/or SACERS-U) at least once based on the eligible classrooms at the center and possibly more depending on the number of classrooms. However, family providers typically only have one observation using the FCCERS-R tool. This means group programs earn their formal rating through the average of each of their ERS observations.