BrightStars is the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System for child care and early learning programs. Participating programs meet research-based quality benchmarks on a scale of one to five stars. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT led the process to design and launch BrightStars and serves on its governing committees. BrightStars provides free, statewide information and referral services to families that are looking to find a child care and/or early learning program.

Research on early care and education reveals a strong relationship between program quality and children’s developing skills and well-being. Children who attend high-quality programs score higher on tests of language and cognitive skills and demonstrate stronger social and emotional development than children who attend low-quality programs.

High-quality child care and early learning is characterized by smaller numbers of children in a classroom or group, fewer children per adult, skilled staff, a language-rich environment with stimulating curricula, warm, nurturing and dependable relationships between staff and children and a safe environment. The development and retention of highly qualified and appropriately compensated workforce is critical to improve program quality.

BrightStars was launched in 2009 with quality ratings for licensed child care centers, Head Start centers, preschools, school-age child care programs, and family child care homes. As of November 2013, public schools that operate early childhood programs can also participate.

Programs participating in BrightStars receive a star rating and develop a quality improvement plan across six quality domains:

  1. Health, safety and nutrition
  2. Enrollment and staffing
  3. Staff qualifications and professional development
  4. Administration
  5. Early learning and development
  6. Family engagement.

For more information, please visit the BrightStars website.

Check out our resources:

2020 Factbook Indicator

High-quality early learning programs is the percentage of licensed early learning centers, family child care homes, and public schools with preschool classrooms that have a high-quality rating of four or five stars from BrightStars, Rhode Island’s Quality Rating and Improvement System for child care and early learning programs.

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Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of Rhode Island’s children.


Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


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