Step Up To Quality is a voluntary rating system for early care and education centers in Ohio. Participating centers earn a one to five star rating by meeting an extensive list of quality benchmarks that exceed licensing standards. Experts say these benchmarks improve the growth and development potential of children. The rating system also provides a useful tool for selecting quality early childhood programs. These benchmarks include low child-to-staff ratios, group size, accreditation, staff education, specialized training, improved workplace characteristics and early learning standards.


Step Up To Quality was created by the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services - Bureau of Child Care and Development to improve the quality of child care in Ohio. Child care programs throughout Ohio are eligible and encouraged to participate. You can find more information about Step Up To Quality and search for star-rated programs by visiting


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What Families Should Know

Step Up To Quality provides parents with a tool to help identify levels of quality when seeking a child care setting outside of their home. Child care programs participating in Step Up To Quality demonstrate a commitment toward providing quality care and education. Parents can use the rating system to gain an understanding of the factors that contribute to quality care and education, and they can then choose a child care setting that best matches their family’s needs. 


The benefits of using a star-rated program in Ohio are:

  • More teachers per child - this allows a teacher to spend more time with each child 
  • More qualified teachers - more training in early childhood development 
  • A commitment to early learning and Ohio’s Early Learning Content Standards 
  • An outstanding work environment - paid staff benefits mean staff is treated professionally, which goes a long way in retaining good teachers 


The Children’s Center is a Five Star Program!


A Five Star rated program means that your child is in a program with: 


Lower staff:child ratios in infant, preschool and school age classrooms 

This means the teachers have more time to support your child’s individual development and learning. This is important because 85% of brain development occurs by the time your child is 3 years old and the number of words your child knows when they enter kindergarten is the single most important predictor of school success.


The administrator and at least 50% of lead teachers have a credential and/or a degree in early childhood education. 

This means that the administrator and teacher(s) have the specialized knowledge to support your child’s development and learning. This is important because just like a doctor needs formal education, so do those working with young children. It’s no less important than for any other profession.


The administrator and all lead teachers and assistant teachers complete 10 hours of specialized training annually. 

This means that the administrator and teaching staff are committed to expanding their education and skills to better support your child’s development and learning. This is important because every year there is new information being discovered and everyone working with young children needs to know about it.


Provides administrative supports and at least two benefits (such as insurance, paid leave, tuition reimbursement etc.). 

This means that the program is a place where employees are supported and treated professionally. This is important because good programs retain good teachers.


Teachers who conduct a developmental screening tool and utilize Ohio’s Infant Toddler Guidelines and/or Early Learning Content Standards in their planning. 

This means that your child’s program uses research based information when planning your child’s day. This is important because it means teachers are intentional in supporting your child’s development and learning.

Step Up To Quality Programs are only eligible for a Star Rating if they have not had any serious risk licensing non-compliances within the past 12 months. If this program were to have a serious risk non-compliance, their rating would be either suspended or removed based on the non-compliance.  

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