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What is the Quality Counts Quality Rating System (QRS)?
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A voluntary system for early childhood and school-age care providers who meet specific indicators of quality child care. Providers who meet required criteria are awarded QRS certification. Providers caring for children who are eligible for state child care assistance also receive an add-on to the standard reimbursement rate. QRS is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).
The Child Care Assistance Program is an Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) funded program that helps pay child care expenses for families of low-income. Parents must be working or in an approved education or training program. CCAP is an income-based program in which parents are assessed a co-payment based on their family size and income. Parents are able to select child care providers who fit their family’s needs, either through the certificate program, in which applications and payments are processed through local Child Care Resource & Referral agencies (CCR&R) or by choosing a facility that has a contract to provide child care services for families of low income.
Being eligible for QRS means your program has achieved specific quality indicators. QRS certification can be used as a marketing tool, showing parents/guardians that your program is recognized by the State of Illinois for commitment to providing higher quality care. QRS certification results in a quality add-on to the state standard rate for providers who care for CCAP children. This quality add-on assists with the higher costs of offering quality care.
License exempt family child care providers and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensed family/group home providers and center based child care programs can apply. Licensed School-Age programs are also eligible to apply. Specific training must be completed and eligibility requirements met for a provider to apply for QRS.
Licensed providers/programs must be licensed for 1 year prior to applying to QRS and be caring for children full day (defined as 8 or more consecutive hours) and operate a minimum of 9 months per year. Licensed School-Age programs must care for children a minimum of 9 months per year.
The application process is administered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA).
There is no application fee for QRS at this time.
QRS offers progressive levels which providers can achieve depending on the type of care they provide. Specific quality criteria must be met to achieve a level. Once a child care provider has met the required criteria for a level, they are awarded QRS certification. Providers caring for CCAP children receive a quality add-on to the standard reimbursement rate.
For license exempt family child care, there are three Training Tiers to achieve. Approved training includes the Illinois Gateways to Opportunity ECE Credential Level 1 modules covering health, safety, child development and much more. Once a provider completes a Training Tier, they will receive a training certificate and a quality add-on to the standard daily CCAP rate of 10%, 15%, or 20% (depending on which Training Tier has been completed). Completion of all three Training Tiers will result in award of the ECE Credential Level 1 certificate.
For licensed providers/programs, there are four Star Levels. There are various indicators of quality that need to be achieved at each Star Level. For each Star Level, the child care learning environment is evaluated by an independent assessor. To learn more about the assessment process, you are required to attend Environment Rating Scale training. At higher Star Levels, the quality of business management is evaluated by an independent assessor. National Accreditation is recognized at these levels. You will need to attend the Business Administration Scale (BAS) training for family child care providers or Program Administration Scale (PAS) training for center based programs before you can apply at Star Level 3 or Star Level 4. All of these training are available at your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency (CCR&R) for a fee of $15 each.
Programs achieving a Star Level will receive QRS certification. If caring for CCAP children they will receive a quality add-on to the standard daily CCAP rate of 5%, 10%, 15%, or 20%.
In order to apply for QRS, attendance at the following Orientation and trainings are required for each type of provider/program. Orientation and trainings are offered by local Child Care Resource & Referrals (CCR&R).
License Exempt Family Child Care Providers
Licensed Family/Group Home Child Care Providers
* ERS and BAS trainings are $15 each.
Licensed Child Care Centers and School-Age Programs
* ERS and PAS trainings are $15 each.
No, programs do not have to be serving CCAP children to apply for QRS. However, providers that are awarded QRS Certification and are caring for CCAP children will receive a quality add-on to the standard rate.
Provider/program, with all required documents, shall be notified in writing of their application status within 15 business days of being received.
Provider/program, missing any required documents, will have up to 90 days from the date the application was received to submit all required documents.
To maintain eligibility in QRS, Licensed providers/programs must submit an annual report within 90 days of their original eligible processing month for the year(s) between initial applications.
License-exempt providers are not required to submit an annual report.
The Illinois Department of Employment Securities (IDES) report is a quarterly report that indicates all staff employed at and paid by a program. Licensed programs are required to submit their most recent quarterly IDES report with staff names and positions listed. Corrections or errors on the report must also be noted.
A current, signed and dated letter on company letterhead from the Human Resources department, accountant or director/owner reflecting the names of current staff members and their position titles noted. A current, dated payroll history is also accepted.
A license exempt family child care provider may submit their application and training attendance certificates after completing the Orientation and training modules for at least Training Tier 1. INCCRRA will review the materials submitted and issue a determination letter within 30 days. If a CCAP provider is eligible, the quality add-on rate will take effect the month following approval.
For licensed family/group home and licensed center based/School-Age programs, the application process may take up to 5 months from the date of submission of the application to the INCCRRA office. Eligible CCAP programs will receive the quality add-on rate the month following eligibility notification.
No, the CCAP quality add-on is not retroactive. The add-on rate is effective the month after a program receives QRS eligibility notification.
If a licensed provider/program is eligible for QRS, the Star Certification will remain in effect for three years with annual reporting required to verify maintenance of certain quality indicators including IDCFS license, training/qualifications and current Accreditation certification (if applicable).
Providers/programs that are found eligible based on QRS assessments will be required to have a new set of assessments conducted every three years.
If a program is not eligible for the Training Tier/Star Level applied for, a QRS counselor will review all the documentation, and determine if the program is eligible for a Training Tier/Star Level before it.
If a license exempt family home provider is found ineligible, they may reapply after completing the training module(s) for a Training Tier that was not completed.
Licensed providers who are missing training hours or other qualifications, can reapply when these requirements are met. If the program's ERS, BAS or PAS score is not high enough for the Star Level applied for, the provider must wait one year before reapplying.
Accreditation is a voluntary process that provides family child care homes, centers and school-age programs the opportunity to examine their services based on recognized standards of high quality. IDHS has funds available through local CCR&Rs to assist in obtaining the following Accreditations:
Environment Rating Scales are program assessment tools used by providers to measure and assess the level of quality in a program. These are user-friendly tools designed for the following program types and/or age groups.
Environment Rating Scales can be used by a provider/program for self-assessment, or by an outside consultant or assessor. In order to be eligible for QRS, an ERS assessment must be conducted by an assigned assessor.
The Business Administration Scale (BAS) and Program Administration Scales (PAS) are user-friendly assessment tools designed to assess the quality of administrative management practices in family child care programs and centers respectively. Areas the BAS assesses in family child care homes include: qualification and professional development, work environment, fiscal management, record keeping, provider-parent communication, marketing/public relations, income/benefits, risk-management, community resources and provider as employer. The PAS assessment for centers looks at 25 items grouped in 10 categories that include: human resources development, personnel cost and allocation, center operations, child assessment, fiscal management, program planning and evaluation, family partnerships, marketing and public relations, technology, and staff qualifications.
BAS & PAS can be used by a provider/program for self-assessment, or by an outside consultant or assessor. In order to be eligible for QRS, a BAS assessment must be conducted by an assigned assessor in family/group homes and a PAS assessment must be conducted by an assigned assessor in centers.
Trainings must be a minimum of 1 hour in length, occur outside of the provider’s home, or in an approved online format, and offer a proof of completion. Trainings must focus on Childhood Development, Early Childhood Education, or applicability to Family Child Care Business.
The Quality Counts website, www.ilqualitycounts.com. You may also contact the INCCRRA office toll free at (866) 697-8278 to speak to a QRS counselor.