Environment rating scales are nationally recognized tools used to measure the quality of care offered by programs. These quality assessment scales were developed through the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Trained evaluators visit programs to observe the children and their environment. Evaluators score programs on how well, or how often, certain things occur. For example, evaluators will:

  • Determine if good health practices, such as handwashing, are followed when children are diapered or fed

  • Watch how the caregivers interact with the children and whether they respond to the children's needs

  • Observe activities to see whether the children have opportunities to play and learn according to their levels of development

  • Evaluate the safety of the classroom area

The History of the Stars

The North Carolina Division of Child Development instituted the star-rated licensing program as a way to offer parents more information on the quality of available child-care options. All child-care centers and family child-care homes that are licensed now also receive a star rating, with one star being the minimum.The license is renewed every three years.