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 Quality Rating System (QRS)?

What is Iowa QRS?

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) created QRS to:

  • Raise the quality of child care in Iowa
  • Increase the number of high quality child care settings for our children
  • Inform parents and providers about high quality care and why it’s important

Iowa QRS is a voluntary program with over 1,000 participants. DHS bases ratings on the five level/star system. DHS licensed or registered providers start at level one and can work up to a five star rating. QRS is part of a national movement toward quality child care. Iowa is one of 22 states that have a QRS system. With so many child care programs to choose from, how do you know if a program is reaching for the stars?

Parents - What does Iowa QRS mean for you?

Searching for a QRS-rated program narrows your choices to the highest quality options. Many programs describe themselves as high quality, but how can you tell? What makes them quality? By taking your child to a QRS-rated provider or program, you know that:

  • Your provider is committed to providing high quality care
  • Providers and programs are working in partnership with parents and families
  • Providers are going above and beyond regulatory requirements to ensure each child has a chance to succeed
  • Rated programs or providers meet standards of quality in categories of:
    • health and safety
    • professional development
    • family and community partnerships
    • leadership and administration
    • environments

Providers - How do you get started?

Child care programs eligible to participate in Iowa QRS are:

  • Registered Child Development Homes
  • Licensed child care centers, including preschools, Head Start, Early Head Start and before-and-after school programs
  • Child care programs operated by school districts

Why should providers participate?

  • It shows parents, families and community members that you are committed to improving quality
  • Parents are increasingly using QRS as a tool to find child care
  • The higher your QRS rating, the more you can use it to market your program to attract new families
  • QRS sets standards for quality child care across the board for all programs
  • It’s the only rating system that reflects best practices in the child care field
  • 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: You meet Iowa’s registration or licensing standards.

Level 2: You receive additional training and take the first steps towards improving quality.

Level 3–5: You earn points based on meeting key indicators of quality in areas of:

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

Once your program completes these steps, fill out an application showing how you meet specific criteria. Review your application with your local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Child Care Consultant. Find your consultant here. CCR&R will send your application to DHS for processing. DHS staff will mail your certificate of QRS level achievement to you to display in your program. This rating is valid for two years, but you may submit for a higher level after one year.

To find a QRS rated provider, explore CCR&R's online referral system, contact a CCR&R parent specialist at 877-216-8481 or visit the DHS website.

Ask your child care program today, “Have you reached for the stars?”


Tags: qrs , quality rating system , improving services , quality services , star-rated , iowa qrs

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