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Best Beginnings STARS to Quality

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Welcome to the Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program - a continuous quality improvement program for early childhood education in Montana!

Early childhood stakeholders developed their vision for quality early childhood education in Montana and identified an approach to investing in and ensuring strong quality outcomes for children. These stakeholders included:

http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifMontana Early Childhood Advisory Council
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifMontana Child Care Resource & Referral Network Agencies
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifMontana Child Care Association
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifMontana Association for the Education of Young Children
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifChild Care Providers across the State
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifMontana Head Start Association
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifEarly Childhood Services Bureau
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifHead Start State Collaboration Office
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifEarly Childhood Comprehensive Systems
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifMontana Early Childhood Project
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifParents
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifChild and Adult Care Food Program
http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/Picture1.gifChild Care Licensing

The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program is a voluntary quality rating improvement system that aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and early childhood professionals. The Early Childhood Services Bureau has enjoyed watching the program grow and develop with the input from the various stakeholders, and has listened carefully to early childhood professionals, parents, and national experts to provide a strong program, desired by many.

Apply for STARS

Programs may apply for Best Beginnings STARS to Quality at any time.  If your application is accepted, your program will be placed on a waiting list as the ECSB is not able to bring additional programs into STARS at this time.  If a slot opens up and your program is next on the waiting list, you will be notified.

About the Program

The quality rating improvement system for Montana has several arms:

1) Workforce Development
2) Quality Rating Improvement System
3) Infrastructure to administer the programs, provide training , coaching, and technical assistance, and to validate the STARS system

Program Essentials:

  • 5 STAR System
  • Research based criteria
  • Workforce support through the Montana Early Care and Education Career Path, encouraging professional development along a continuum of training
  • Maintaining quality over time
  • Renewal based on validation of Level and program improvement plan
  • Monetary Incentives for continual program improvement
  • Monetary Incentives based on Level achieved
  • If a program moves down a level, the incentives decrease.
  • Resources, assistance, and support to move through the levels provided by Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the Early Childhood Project, and other state determined resources.
  • Program Assessment Tools are incorporated including:
    • Environment Rating Scales
    • Program and Business Administration Scales

The above assessments are administered by contracted STARS assessors.

    • Pyramid Model: The Preschool Observation tool (TPOT) and The Pyramid Infant Toddler Observation Scale (TPITOS).

These tools are used as part of the coaching experience for programs implementing the Pyramid Model.

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Support for STARS programs

MT has Assessors who are trained and reliable in the following scales:

  • Environment Rating Scales
    • Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-R (ECERS-R)
    • Infant Toddler Environment Rating Scale-R (ITERS-R)
    • Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale-R (FCCERS-R)
  • Program/Business Rating Scales
    • Program Administration Scale (PAS) – Centers
    • Business Administration Scale (BAS) – Family/Group

Assessors understand the importance of fairness, and were selected through an application and interview process, and could demonstrate availability and limited conflicts of interest. Assessments occur at STAR 3, STAR 4, and STAR 5 at each occurrence and annually.

Montana specific notes for the ERS Scales, Program and Business Administration Scales are sent directly to programs when updated in September and April, as well as available to coaches.

ERS/PAS/BAS Additional and Montana Notes

The complete versions include both the Authors Notes for Clarification and the Montana Notes. For Montana Notes only, see the links below:

ECSB Logo

The Early Childhood Services Bureau recognizes the following businesses who are independently supporting Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Participants!

If you are a STARS to Quality Participant, please contact your STARS coach for more information.

http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/bestbeginnings/images/360officesolutions.jpg
Customer Service Team
(406) 248-7881
Kaplan
Lakeshore Discount School Supply

The State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Early Childhood Services Bureau does not endorse particular vendors, these vendors have provided this opportunity to Best Beginnings STARS to Quality participants independently as a means of supporting high quality early care and education for young children.

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

The CACFP is federally funded by the Food and Nutrition Services of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Department of Public Health and Human Services/Human & Community Services Division/Early Childhood Services Bureau is the State agency which administers the Child and Adult Care Food Program in Montana. The State agency:

  • Provides consultative, technical and managerial personnel to administer the program in the state
  • Provides sufficient training and technical assistance to institutions
  • Monitors program performance
  • Facilitates the expansion of the program
  • Ensures effective operation of the program by participating institutions

For more information go to http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/cacfp/index.shtml

Coaching and STARS Technical Assistance

Programs will have a coach available through their local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency. The coach is available to assist programs in quality improvement planning, action planning, understanding the STARS program criteria and steps involved, and will be there to work with the program to meet individual program goals as the program requests. It will be up to programs to contact their coach after the initial visit in which the coach will set up to come to the program and meet the director and staff as well as deliver materials for STARS. Programs may work with their coach as much or as little as they feel they need the coach. It is the coaches responsibility to upload documentation and submit STAR level applications, but this should be done in partnership with the program director.

STAR Kits

Programs can access STAR kits below. STAR Kits are tools to assist in understanding and preparing for the criteria at each STAR level. Resources, samples, and tools are provided as part of the STAR Kits to support coaching needs, program improvement needs and tracking or monitoring of progress. Any documents that are required for STARS will have an asterisk (*) next to the name of the document.

STAR 1 Working to STAR 2

Center

Family/Group

STAR 2 Working to STAR 3

Center

Family/Group

Pyramid Model

Coaches and Professional Development Specialists are trained in the Pyramid Model and will provide training related to implementation of the Pyramid model and also coaching to support a program’s approach to implementing social emotional supports. Additionally, Christy Hill-Larson serves as the statewide Pyramid Model coordinator.

NAFCC Accreditation Mentoring

Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies will be available statewide to coordinate mentoring to programs pursuing NAFCC accreditation.

Workforce Support and Incentives, Professional Development

More information is available through the Early Childhood Project. For the Early Childhood Workforce Incentives Chart, click here.

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Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Incentives

STARS incentives are available to programs in two forms:
1) quarterly quality improvement awards
2) tiered reimbursement percent increases (above standard state reimbursement rates) for those facilities choosing to serve Best Beginnings Scholarship families.

STARS Incentives (Quarterly)

Family

Group

Small Center
13-29
Licensed Capacity or Average Daily Attendance whichever is less

Medium Center
30-59
Licensed Capacity or Average Daily Attendance whichever is less

Large Center
60+
Licensed Capacity or Average Daily Attendance whichever is less

STAR 1

Beginner STAR Kit, Resources, Help and Support

STAR 2

$625

$875

$1250

$1625

$2063

5% increased reimbursement for Best Beginnings Scholarships

20% annual budget must go towards Personnel

STAR 3

$938

$1375

$1875

$2500

$3125

10% increased reimbursement for Best Beginnings Scholarships

30% annual budget must go towards Personnel

STAR 4

$1250

$1875

$2500

$3375

$4063

15% increased reimbursement for Best Beginnings Scholarships

40% annual budget must go towards Personnel

STAR 5

$1563

$2250

$3125

$4250

$5000

20% increased reimbursement for Best Beginnings Scholarships

50% annual budget must go towards Personnel

STARS incentives are to be used for continuous quality improvement, staff support and salaries, professional development, equipment, etc. Purchases and investments are meant to assist a program in moving to the next level, maintaining the STAR level achieved and increasing quality. STARS incentives must be used in accord with an approved quality improvement plan. STARS incentives may not be used for construction.

WORKFORCE incentives are available in a variety of forms and are not tied directly to the Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program, and have separate eligibility criteria.

Click here to see the Early Childhood Workforce Incentives

All incentives for the Best Beginnings STARS to Quality System, including STARS incentives and workforce incentives, are subject to eligibility requirements as outlined in policy and are dependent on funding.

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Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Matrix and Criteria

Center

Criteria are built for the potential of maximum early care and education participants, field test qualifications related to licensure and equivalents may differ than described in the text of the document. Additionally in the case of large centers and different organizational structures, it may be appropriate for the person meeting Director qualifications under the State of Montana licensing requirements and serving as an Education Coordinator/Manager, or Assistant Director, etc. to meet the criteria mentioned throughout the matrix for the Director.

Family/Group

Criteria are built for the potential of maximum early care and education participants, field test qualifications related to licensure and equivalents may differ than described in the text of the document.


Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Guidance Document and Procedures

Please refer to the Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Guidance Document and Procedures for further information regarding criteria.

Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Guidance Document and Procedures

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STARS Frequently Asked Questions & Updates

NEW FAQs/Updates will be posted directly to the category to which they fit. Please make sure to go through all of the FAQ’s when checking this page for updates.

General Field Test FAQs

Q: What happens with coaching if a program is placed on hold for any reason?

A: Programs participating in STARS can be put on "Hold Status" at any time for the following reasons; program is working towards meeting required criteria, an appeal in progress, significant program changes or staff changes, pending action from licensing, or at the request of the program. If a program is on hold for any reason, this does not mean that the coaching relationship ends. The program can still request assistance from their coach to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. The coaching visits may look different depending on the nature of the hold status, but it is important for the program to know that the coach can continues working with the program.

Q: If I do not meet the score required for a STAR level, what is the process for a 2nd assessment?

A: Depending on the indicators not met, a follow-up assessment may be scheduled soon after your initial assessment, or it may be scheduled for longer (meaning going to the next quarter or additional quarters) to allow the program time to work on the indicators that were not met. This will be determined on a case by case basis. In situations such as these, ECSB will compare the initial baseline score for a first assessment at STAR 3, and subsequent assessments for higher levels, to assist in determining whether a 2nd assessment will be allowed, and what the time line for a follow up assessment may be. Follow up assessments will also be dependent on the assessors’ availability.

Q: If a provider gets an assessment score required for a higher level than they are applying for, do they have to have an assessment at that higher level.

A: *ERS* – all ERS assessments (ECERS-R; ITERS-R; FCCERS-R) must occur each time at STAR level 3-5, regardless of previous scores met (i.e. if the score for STAR 3 meets the criteria for STAR 4, the assessment must still occur at STAR 4).
*BAS/PAS* – must occur each time at STAR levels 3-5, unless a prior rating score meets the criteria of a higher STAR level (i.e. if the score for STAR 3 meets the criteria for STAR 4). In those cases the program would not be required to have a new BAS/PAS assessment when applying for a higher STAR level within that calendar year, unless there have been significant programmatic or staff changes.

Q: What is the process for having an assessor come to my
program?

A: Keep in mind that the time from when the assessment is scheduled to the time you get your summary report will be a lengthy process. It is important to plan ahead. You may request your assessment only once you have met all the other criteria for STAR Level 3, 4, or 5, depending on what level you are working toward. Your STARS coach will need to verify that you have met all the criteria then they will let ECSB know that you are ready for an assessment. Once your assessment is complete you may apply for STAR Level 3, 4, or 5 only if your assessment results meet the average facility score defined in the criteria and you have met all other criteria. Quality Improvement Plans and budgets should reflect your assessment summary results. If a program cancels their assessment for any reason, there is not a guarantee that the assessment can take place in time for the application due date. If the score needed for that particular level is not met, a program can request another assessment. Depending on the indicators not met, that assessment may be scheduled soon after your initial assessment, or it may be scheduled for longer to allow the program time to work on the indicators that were not met. This will be determined on a case by case basis.

Q: What is the Quality Improvement Plan supposed to look like?

A: The intention of the Quality Improvement Plan is to support providers as they plan to advance to the next STAR level, or to maintain a STAR level. The Quality Improvement Plan is informed by the various tools such as ERS, PAS/BAS, The Knowledge Base, individual professional development plans, or STARS criteria. There is a Quality Improvement Plan form in the STAR kit, or your coach has access to the form.  Only the approved Quality Improvement Plan form template will be accepted.

Q:If I change my licensing status, can I still participate in STARS?

A: A change in category will not indicate forfeiture, as long as the provider wants to remain in the program and participate, meeting expectations for the appropriate category of licensure.

Q:If I sell my program, can the program still participate in STARS?

A: The following must occur for STARS programs which are being sold:

  • A written request must be sent to the STARS Program Specialists, who will make a determination of whether the program will be allowed to remain in STARS.
    • This request must provide assurances that all STARS criteria will be met and/or maintained.
    • The STARS Program Specialists will respond in writing within 30 business days of the written request from the provider giving a determination on whether participation in the field test will be allowed to continue or not.
  • QAD must be contacted, as ownership changes require a change in the PV#.
    • A provisional license will be issued, which will not affect quarterly incentives, but could potentially have an impact on scholarship bonuses as these cannot be paid out to a program holding a provisional license. Scholarship bonuses are also affected by the timing within the quarter when licenses are updated and payment schedules in CCUBS. Scholarship bonuses are not retroactive. If a program has changed ownership & is holding a provisional license at the time payment is to be made or the license change within the quarter (or next) is not timed with payments, the program assumes responsibility for the loss of the scholarship bonus.
  • New ownership also will mean a change in the EIN for tax purposes, so an accountant should be consulted. Neither ECSB nor QAD will answer tax related questions.
  • A change in ownership may result in ECSB scheduling assessments to ensure program quality is being maintained. A change may also result in ECSB requesting further documentation of compliance with STARS criteria.
Q:Can a program stay in STARS with a new director?

A: Yes. A new director will need to send in a training plan just like any other new hire within 30 days of their start date. QAD must also be informed as soon as possible in order to update licensing information. The new director will also need to update the Program Profile and Director of Record on the STARS Application and Approval site once QAD has updated the new director’s information. A change in director may result in ECSB scheduling assessments to ensure program quality is being maintained. A change may also result in ECSB requesting further documentation of compliance with STARS criteria.

Q: Can my program continue participation in STARS if our location or physical space changes?

A: If a STARS program moves from one location to another, STARS monitors and coaches must be notified as well as working with Child Care Licensing.  Change in location does not mean that a program can no longer participate in STARS; however a program will go back to STAR Participant status and must re-apply for STAR levels.  The program must have a new baseline assessment.  If a program moves from one location to another, it is possible that they may receive a provisional license from Child Care Licensing, which may affect percent bonus payments if a program is at STAR 2.  If a program has not yet achieved a STAR level, they must still notify STARS monitors and coaches of their program move so that a baseline assessment can be scheduled.

Q: If a program wants to stay at a certain level, do they have to reapply, and if so, how often?

A: If a participant chooses to remain at a specific level, they will need to re-apply and submit all required documents for that level yearly. Assessments will also occur at STAR 3 and above annually.

Training FAQs

Q: I hold a license for infants, but do not take any infants in my
program. Do I still have to take the Safe Sleep training?

A:Yes. If you are licensed to serve infants you will need to take trainings that are required for that age group. If you plan to never take a child under 24 months old you could also change your license to exclude infants.

Q: I have copies of my stars training certificates from another state. Will these trainings count towards my STARS in MT?

A: No, each STARS or QRIS program is different in every state. We want participants to know about the MT STARS program which is covered in the required STARS Readiness Training.

Q: Infants are considered what age for purposes of the Safe Sleep training?

A: The age consideration for infants related to Safe Sleep is 0-24 months. The Safe Sleep course must be completed within 60 days for individuals working with this age group per Child Care Licensing Regulations.

Q: If I have a B.A. or are in school to obtain my B.A. degree in Early Childhood, do I still have to take Inclusion I & II?

A: Yes, Inclusion I & II still need to be taken unless proof of a college course specific to inclusive care has been successfully completed. College courses that embed inclusive practices do not qualify for this requirement.

Q:Will my college Serv Safe Food Safety and Microbiology Course be
sufficient for the Serv Safe training requirement?

A: If the ServSafe food safety is the same as provided through the MT Extension offices or your local health department it can count. The syllabus would need to be reviewed to ensure that the material is the same.

Q: Who is required to take the Medication Administration 1 and 2 courses?

A: All primary caregivers must take Medication Administration 1 and 2 if medication is administered in the program. Non-primary caregivers may administer ONLY non-ingestible OTC medications (such as sun screen and diaper rash cream) if they do not take the courses.  If non-primary caregivers administer prescription medication, then they are required to take the course. Primary caregivers will be responsible for making sure that the required consent (Non-Ingestible Over-the-Counter Medication Authorization Form) is on file for each child and that these medications are stored properly and are available (as provided by the parent and stored by the program) for use by a non-primary caregiver.

Individuals who take Medication Administration will be required to take a refresher course every 3 years. The refresher course must be completed within 3 years of the date Medication Administration II was completed.

If an employee is a parent of a child enrolled in a program, and has not taken the Medication Administration, they are allowed to administer medication only to their own child. Appropriate licensing regulations such as: have a signed authorization on file, medication in a container with the prescription label or directions for use (for OTC’s), record giving the medication on the Medication Administration Log (signed by the administering parent), and a Special Needs Health Care Plan on file for the child, when appropriate, should be followed.

If a program does not administer medications, at least the Director must take the Medication Administration courses and a current copy of the policy signed by the Director must be uploaded to the Application and Approval site.

Q: For Preschool training, if a provider is enrolled in a program for college credit, can they be waived from the Preschool course?

A: If the program enrolled in results in achieving at least a Level 4 on the Career Path, it can be used as an equivalent to the Preschool Caregiver Course requirement. The coursework would need to be college based. To be considered “enrolled in” the program would have to be completed within a reasonable amount of time from the request to waive the class (no more than 2 years).

Q:For I/T Certification Course: If a facility serves ages 2 and up, are staff required to attend the I/T or the Preschool course if they are serving 2 & 3 year olds?

A: Programs need to consider the developmental levels of the children in their care. Developmental needs are individualized, and not all 2 year olds are alike. As a result, a program may want to consider sending some staff to the Infant Toddler course, and some staff to the Preschool course. The program would be expected to work with their coach to identify the best option for their program and then document the decision and justify why the decision was made. For Family & Group Home providers, both courses need to be taken. Consideration for which course is taken first could be based on the majority of the children in care currently. Family and group home providers will have up to one (1) year to complete the other course in order to maintain a STAR Level 3. This will need to be included in the provider’s Professional Development Plan, and turned in to ECSB with the required documents for STAR Level 3. ECSB will be tracking this to ensure the class is completed within one (1) year.

Q: Can providers pay the R&R to offer additional STARS courses, on top of what they already have scheduled?

A: This is a negotiation that can occur with individual R&R agencies. The state, of course, is interested in R&R’s providing services in the interest of all providers, and would expect R&R’s to consider this in their decision making about this option.

Q: When can a Director train their staff on a required STARS training?

A:

  • They have attended a train the trainer event preparing them for serving as a trainer in a specific curriculum such as the Certified Infant Toddler Course and they are in contract through a CCR&R to provide this training in a community
  • They have been contracted with by the state and participated in necessary reliability or certification training to provide statewide training.
  • They are employed on a part time basis through the Child Care Resource & Referral Agency for purposes of offering training on their behalf.
  • In all situations, the state must determine appropriateness of Director involvement in training implementation, and Director’s cannot train only their staff in a separate training for the purposes of STARS required courses; however, if staff members from a Director’s facility participate in a community/state training in which their Director is the trainer as described above, this is acceptable.
Staff Requirement FAQs

Q: How long will providers have to get new staff caught up to speed on requirements in order to maintain a current STAR level?

A:

  • Programs which are currently at a STAR 1 have a 6 month transition period from date of hire for new staff to fulfill STAR 1 criteria in order to keep their current STAR level.
    • Individuals working with children ages 0-24 months will have 60 days from date of hire to complete Safe Sleep per Child Care Licensing Regulations.
  • Programs which are currently at a STAR 2 have the 6 months from date of hire for new staff to fulfill STAR 1 criteria and 9 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 2 criteria (an additional 3 months beyond the 6 month requirement-not 9 additional months).
  • Programs which are currently at a STAR 3 and above have: 6 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 1 criteria, 9 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 2 criteria, and 12 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 3 criteria (an additional 3 months beyond the 9 month requirement). Additionally for STAR 3, new staff must have completed or be enrolled in the required Infant/Toddler or Preschool Teacher Certification Course within 12 months of hire. 
  • Programs which are currently at STAR 4 have: 6 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 1 criteria, 9 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 2 criteria, 12 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 3 criteria, and 18 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 4 criteria.
  • Programs which are currently at STAR 5 have: 6 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 1 criteria, 9 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 2 criteria, 12 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 3 criteria, and 18 months from date of hire to fulfill STAR 4 and STAR 5 criteria.
  • All programs are required to submit a Training Plan for any new staff person within 30 days of hire. This training plan must be completed on the approved Training Plan form (which is on Share Point) and include a list of completion dates for all the required trainings for each STAR level the individual has achieved, as well as Practitioner Registry status. 

ECSB recognizes that changes in staff for age groups being worked with happens frequently, especially in Center care. If a staff person begins working with a new age group, we will treat that change as a new employee and will need a training plan for that individual. For example: If a facility is at STAR 3 and one of their Preschool teachers moves out of Preschool to work with Infants/Toddlers, the following would need to happen as far as trainings for the facility to maintain their STAR level (trainings specific to I/T – it is assumed all other trainings are complete): within 6 months of moving to work with infants/toddlers, the Safe Sleep training for STAR 1 would need to be completed; within 1 year the individual needs to be either enrolled in or have completed the Infant Toddler Caregiver Education course (for Primary teachers) for STAR 3. Not following through on this training plan could result in the facility being placed on hold or potentially losing their STAR rating until the plan is fulfilled.  The same process shall occur with role type changes as well.

Q: What is the master staff list that is a required document?

A: The staff list required by programs to send in with their STAR application is the Staff List that they turn in to Child Care Licensing.

Q:Can a Director/Owner waive the entry level training requirement
for STAR 2, and what does “related to the Knowledge Base” mean?

A: If an individual thinks the requirement should be waived for them, they need to write a rationale and provide documentation for why they think the requirements should be waived, and should consider using the MT Early Care & Education Knowledge Base to assist in their documentation/justification. This can be routed through the coach to the Early Childhood Services Bureau to approve/deny the waiver request.

Q:Can somebody other than the Director of Record take the
trainings that are required for a Director (i.e. Assistant Director in
charge of licensing take PAS)?

A: Yes, the person responsible for the education staff should take the classes related to the care of the children and the person responsible for administration of the program should attend the Program Administration Scales/Business Administration Scales training. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Director of Record to ensure that all criteria and quality indicators are met around these training requirements.

Workforce Incentives FAQs

Q: Can someone receive Higher Ed Merit Pay and I/T or Preschool in the same year?

A: Yes; however, they cannot receive Higher Ed PDIA (formerly Merit Pay) and the IT or Preschool PDIA if they are taking them for the college coursework recorded in their application for Higher Ed PDIA.

Q: Can STARS providers apply for Mini Grants?

A: STARS participants are not eligible for mini grants during the field test.

Q: Is there a completion stipend and continuity of care stipend for the Preschool Caregiver Course?

A: The Preschool Caregiver Course includes a professional development incentive award for successful completion; however, there is no continuity of care stipend available. Please refer to the Workforce Incentives.

Q: How will I get my professional development needs paid for which are required in the STARS program?

A: Workforce Professional Development Incentives are available for individuals to apply to receive funds to support professional development. For STARS field test programs, once a STARS level is determined, programs may include professional development costs in their quality improvement plan and budget.

Incentives and Budget FAQs

Q: How do I complete the columns on the Budget Spreadsheet?

A:  First, make sure you are using a current form (check the revised date on the upper left hand side). Second, complete the top portion of the form including; PV #, Facility Type, STAR level (applying for), Number of renewals (at that STAR level), Director Name, Business Name, Address, and your Fiscal Agent’s information if a different individual than the Director. You will notice that the form has automatically entered the budget amounts for you. Thirdly, complete the date range.  Q1 (quarter one) is the first quarter that you will be receiving incentives in, so complete the month and year accordingly.  Ex: October 1, 2014 to September 3o, 2015.  The date range must be for a full year.

Now you are ready to list your expenses. You must begin with Q1 and complete that quarter separately. The total for Q1 must equal the amount of one quarter’s incentives. The amount must not be under or over by any amount. You will know you entered the correct amount when there is no amount listed in the Over/Under Budget line item.  Now you are ready to complete Q2-Q4 columns. These columns include the planned purchases for the next three quarters and MUST only amount to one quarters incentive for each column. If you do not enter at least the minimum amount for Personnel/Staff Costs that is projected on the form it will say “Under Budget” in the Total Budget Column. You can enter in more than the projected amount but not less.  You will notice that the Total Budget column is calculating for you as well.  Make sure that the Sub Total, the Total Budget, and the Allowed Budget match.  Sign the form.

Pyramid Model FAQs

Q: Who is certified to train on the Pyramid Modules?

A: Currently, only those individuals who have taken the "Train the Trainer" training sponsored by the Early Childhood Services Bureau and the Early Childhood Project. Program directors or education coordinators/managers may not train their own staff.

Q: Who is considered the "director" of a program for Pyramid Model training purposes?
  • The person whose responsibilities include supervision of the educational services, guides curriculum and program planning, serves as a resource for education specialists and/or teachers and teacher assistants; analyzes data, completes reports, supervises classroom and other education staff. For example, a Head Start or Early Head Start Executive Director may not be the individual that manages and supervises the early care and education staff and program, that role may have the title of Education Manager or Director of Education.
  • In addition DPHHS Licensing Requirements for Day Care Centers states that “Director” means the person designated on the center application or otherwise by written notice to the department as the person responsible for the daily operation of a day care center. A director is also responsible for implementing appropriate child development principles and knowledge of family relationships in providing daily care to the children cared for in the facility.
  • Talk this over with your coach to determine which person in fits the description of “director” for Pyramid Model implementation.
Q: Where can I find materials and resources that support the Pyramid Model? Q: Who needs to take Module 3 training?
  • All education staff needs to take the 2-hour Module 3 Overview training for the age group they work with, if they are not taking the full Module 3 trainings. If staff members take the Module 3 trainings, they do not need to take the Module 3 Overview.
  • The program will identify members of a Behavior Support team that will attend Module 3 training.
Q: What happens in the situation where a Pyramid Model training module is offered in multiple sessions and a participant is unable to make one of the sessions?

A: It is up to the local CCR&R to establish a policy about missing a session. It is the participant's responsibility to make a plan with the coach on how to complete the training.

Q: What are the differences between an internal coach and external coach?
  • An external coach is assigned to the program by ECSB to help the program with all STARS activities including Pyramid Model activities.
  • An internal coach is identified by the program and external coach to assist the program in implementing the Pyramid Model
Q: For center based programs implementing the Pyramid Model in STAR Level 3, how are 50% of the classrooms selected?

A: The program director will make this determination, and can work with their coach as well to make this determination.

Q: Is the Pyramid Model training offered for college credit?

A: Pyramid Model trainings offered through the CCR&R agencies are not offered for college credit. All of the trainings are approved by the Early Childhood Project and many CCR&R agencies offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the training.

Q: Who should I contact if I have questions about Pyramid Model?
  • First call your STARS Coach.
  • Coaches should call the Pyramid Model State Coordinator.
Q: At STAR Level 3, what does implementing the Pyramid Model mean?
  • Implementation of the Pyramid Model will probably differ somewhat from program to program, as many programs and teachers may already have in place useful strategies to deal with challenging behaviors, but often early childhood settings need additional supports and the Pyramid Model is a systematic way of making certain that you have all of the right supports in place for staff, children and families.
  • Director and staff will communicate with families about the Pyramid Model (Positive Solutions for Families can be used as a resource).
  • An internal (on site) coach will be identified and job description will reflect the new duties.
  • TPOT/TPITOS will be used as assessments and to guide coaching activities.
  • 50% or more of the classrooms will work on implementing the Pyramid Model which first of all includes working toward nurturing and responsive relationships among classroom staff, administration, children and families and having in place a high quality supportive environment. Classroom staff begins to use what was learned in Pyramid Model training and putting it into practice; using Pyramid Model tools (i.e. Inventory of Practices, Benchmarks of Quality, scripted stories, Turtle Technique, visual cues, solutions cards, books to teach social emotional skills, etc.)as well as other appropriate resources. For a complete list of tools,resources, and strategies that support the Pyramid Model go to the www.vanderbilt.edu/csefel and to the TACSEI website www.challengingbehavior.org (the Teaching Tools for Young Children toolkit may be especially helpful).
Q: Do the Pyramid Modules need to be taken in order: Introduction to the CSEFEL Pyramid Model, Module 1 , Module 2, Introduction to Module 3, Module 3a (preschool) Module3b (preschool) or I/T Module 3?

A: Yes, Pyramid Model trainings must be taken in order as a series. The Pyramid Model training modules are based on the teaching Pyramid Model of promotion, prevention, and intervention and using evidence based strategies to support children's challenging behavior. Each level of the Pyramid provides the foundation for the next level which can prevent many problem behaviors in early childhood settings. You will need to work with your coach to determine if you need to take the Infant/Toddler Modules, Preschool Modules, or F/GH Modules. If you or someone in your program is not able to take a Module when it is offered in your area, look on the Early Childhood Projects statewide training calendar, it may be offered in a nearby community.

Q: Do all staff have to take Module 3 (Infant and Toddler) or Module 3a and 3b (Preschool)?

A: No. At STAR 4, the criterion is for the Director and staff to complete an overview of Module 3. For Infant Toddler teachers/caregivers, Module 3 is 5 hour training. For Preschool teachers/caregivers, Module 3a is 6 hours and Module 3b is 6 hours, for a total of 12 hours. Programs and coaches will work together on developing a Behavior Support Team and help owner/directors determine the needs of the family or group home provider.

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STARS Levels

Programs participating in STARS can be put on "Hold Status" at any time for the following reasons; program is working towards meeting required criteria, a request for review is in progress, significant staff program or staff changes, pending action from licensing, or at the request of the program.

Those who are participating in this program are listed in the links below. Once the participant has achieved a level they will be moved to that list; if they have not achieved a level yet, then they will still be listed under STARting Out.

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STARS Training Information

All STARS required trainings hosted through CCR&R Agencies will be free of charge through June 30, 2015.

Training will be available to meet the various requirements for STARS. Training is conducted by a variety of entities and in a variety of ways. CCR&R’s can assist in linking providers to the training source.

STAR One

  • STARS Readiness Training- this training will be available via local Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies and is planned to be offered via www.ChildCareTraining.org as well.
  • Emergency Preparedness – available through local Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies using the curriculum adopted from Maine, called YIKES. Each R&R will develop or coordinate this training with the outcome of the early childhood facility having an Emergency Preparedness Plan. The training is not required for STARS; however, having an Emergency Preparedness Plan is.
  • Medication Administration I Training- Medication Administration Training 1 is available through www.ChildCareTraining.org.
  • Child Abuse and Neglect: Mandatory Reporting training - This training is given by Child Care Licensors, and is available by contacting your local Resource and Referral agency, as well as online at www.ChildCareTraining.org.
  • Immunization Training – This training is available at www.immunization.mt.gov and is required for staff responsible for reviewing immunization records. This course is not available for ECP credit as it is only 1 hour. Certificates must be uploaded to the STARS Application & Approval Site; not sent to ECP.

STAR Two

  • Entry Level Training -BEST for Family & Group homes is available through your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency.
  • Program Administration Scales and Business Administration Scales training These trainings will be available through the CCR&R. Contact the following CCR&R Agency to register:
    • 2014 Scheduled Trainings
      • Program Administration Scale (PAS) – Centers
        • HRDC 7, Billings: Tuesday July 1 3:30pm-5:30pm
        • Child Care Connections, Bozeman – Monday July 14 6:00pm-8:00pm
        • Child Care Resources, Missoula: Wednesday August 20 3:00pm-5:00pm
        • The Nurturing Center, Kalispell – Thursday August 21 3:30pm-5:30pm
        • Family Connections MT, Great Falls – Wednesday September 24 3:30pm-5:30pm
      • Business Administration Scale (BAS) – Family & Group
        • HRDC 7, Billings: Tuesday July 1 6:30pm-8:30pm
        • Child Care Connections, Bozeman – Tuesday July 15 6:00pm-8:00pm
        • Child Care Resources, Missoula: Wednesday August 20 6:30pm-8:30pm
        • The Nurturing Center, Kalispell – Thursday August 21 6:30pm-8:30pm
        • Family Connections MT, Great Falls – Wednesday September 24 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • Medication Administration Training II- Medication Administration Training II is available through www.ChildCareTraining.org.
  • Medication Administration Refresher must be taken every three (3) years after completion of I and II. This course is available at www.ChildCareTraining.org.
  • Oral Health/Open Wide – This training is available at http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/oralhealth/. Open Wide is a free online course offered through the DPHHS Family and Community Health Bureau for: registered/licensed child care providers, school nurses, WIC staff, Head Start staff and Local Public Health Offices.
  • Environment Rating Scale Training - This training is available at www.ChildCareTraining.org.
  • Introduction to the Pyramid Model and Pyramid Model: MT Blended Module 1- These trainings are available at each Child Care Resource and Referral Agency. Introduction to the Pyramid Model is also available at www.ChildCareTraining.org.

STAR Three

STAR Four

  • Introduction to the MT Early Learning Standards (MELS) Course -  (update September 16, 2011)- coming soon to www.ChildCareTraining.org.
  • Inclusion 1: Foundations for Inclusion – Currently available through Child Care plus+ as distance education with an option for academic credit. Registration forms are available by calling 1-800-235-4122. ED 391: Practicing Inclusion in Preschool Programs is a 3 credit course and is an acceptable equivalent for Inclusion I and Inclusion II; this course is available through the University of Montana.
  • Food Safety Course – Direct food service staff must take an approved Food Safety Course (which must be offered through a County Health Department, City/County Sanitarian, or Extension Agency) in addition to the CACFP required training.
  • Module 3 Overview and Pyramid Model Module 3 (Infant Toddler Module 3 and Preschool Module 3a & 3b) - These trainings are available at each Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

STAR Five

  • Inclusion 2: Strategies for Inclusion – Currently available through Child Care plus+ as a distance education with an option for academic credit. Registration forms are available by calling 1-800-235-4122. ED 391: Practicing Inclusion in Preschool Programs is a 3 credit course and is an acceptable equivalent for Inclusion I and Inclusion II; this course is available through the University of Montana.

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Page last updated: 07/29/2014