Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right! – Oprah Winfrey

With the new year just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions. Instead of going with the “same old, same old” resolutions we make every year, why not make a resolution to learn more about the Iowa QRS?

What is the Iowa QRS?

The Iowa QRS (Quality Rating System):

  • Raises the quality of child care in Iowa
  • Increases the number of high quality child care settings for our children
  • Educates parents and providers about high quality care and why it’s important

The Iowa QRS is a voluntary program with over 1,000 participants. Providers that are registered or licensed with the Iowa Department of Human Services start at a level 1 and can work their way up to a 5-star rating. The QRS is part of a national movement towards quality care. Iowa is one of 22 states currently participating in the QRS program.

What does the Iowa QRS mean for parents?

When shopping for child care, every program describes themselves as offering high quality care. With so many child care programs to choose from, how do know your child’s program is “reaching for the stars”? How can you tell? What makes them quality? 

By taking your child to a QRS rated provider or program, you know that…

  1. Choosing a QRS rated program narrows your choices to the highest quality options.
  2. Rated programs meet certain standards of quality in categories of health & safety, professional development, family & community partnerships, leadership & administration, and environments.
  3. Your provider is committed to providing high quality care and working with parents and families.
  4. Providers are going above and beyond minimum requirements to ensure each child has an opportunity to succeed.

How do providers start?

Child care programs eligible to participate in the Iowa QRS are:

  • Registered Child Development Homes
  • Licensed child care centers
  • Preschools, Head Start, Early Head Start
  • Before & after school programs
  • Child care programs that are operated by school districts

Why should programs participate?

  1. It shows to parents, families, and community members that you are committed to improving quality.
  2. Parents are increasingly using the QRS as a tool to find child care.
  3. The higher your QRS rating, the more you can use it to market your program to attract new families.
  4. The QRS sets standards for quality child care across the board for all programs.
  5. It’s the only rating system that reflects best practices in the child care field.
  6. There are financial rewards for obtaining a QRS rating of 2-5 stars; the higher you go the more money you receive to help you improve your quality program.

Earning the Stars:

Level 1: Meet Iowa’s registration or licensing standards.

Level 2: Receive additional training and make the first steps towards improving quality.

Level 3-5: Earn points by meeting key indicators of quality in areas of:

  • Professional Development (education, certification, and experience)
  • Health & Safety (assessments with nurse consultant, trainings, and emergency preparedness plans)
  • Environment (trainings, self-assessment and improvement plans)
  • Family & Community Partnerships (Professional memberships, parent orientations, surveys, parent meetings)
  • Leadership & Administration (Staff evaluations and orientation, improvement plans, and professional development plans)

Once a program completes these steps, they fill out an application showing the specific criteria they met. They review the application with their CRR&R Child Care Consultant. Providers can find their consultant at The Consultant sends the application to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) office. DHS staff mails the certificate of QRS level achievement to the program to proudly display. This rating is current for two years, though programs can apply for a higher level after one year.

To find a QRS rated child care program near you, contact your local CCR&R office at 877-216-8481.

Ask your child care program today if they reached for the stars by participating in the Iowa QRS!


Tags: new year's , new year's resolutions , providers , parents , quality rating system , qrs

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