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What Should a Parent Look For When Choosing a Day Care Center? The Tennessee Star Quality Program

By David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

book-abcIn Tennessee and other States, working parents rely upon day care centers to provide the health, safety, welfare, supervision, and guidance of their children. When selecting a day care center, a parent has a number of factors to consider including location, costs, hours, compliance, history, licensure, and in some States like Tennessee a Star Quality Program.

The Star Quality Program in Tennessee has provided parents with a short-cut of sorts for narrowing down the prospective day care centers a parent may want to conduct a full investigation on before registering their children. Under the Star Quality Program, Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) conducts an evaluation of licensed day care centers. These evaluations are converted into a Three Star Rating. The more stars a day care center had earned means the higher the standards the day care center satisfies.

Evaluations by DHS include the review of seven different categories. The categories are: direct qualifications, professional development, developmental learning, parent/family involvement, ratio and group size, staff compensation, and a program assessment. The program assessment include DHS observing the day care center in action. Most parents would likely agree that these are some of the categories that they evaluate themselves when determining which day care center to attend.

Parents in Tennessee should be aware that not all day care centers are eligible to participate in the Star Quality Program. Day care centers are prohibited from participating in the program if the day care center has had a major civil penalty, five or more minor civil penalty, or has had issues with its license being renewed or suspended within a certain period of time.

Day care centers can also lose stars. This means that if parents have selected a day care provider with a higher star rating and the day care provider falls short of its requirements to satisfy that rating, that star rating will be revised. Parents will see that the star rating has been revised and can investigate further to determine whether they would like to continue allowing their child to attend the day care facility.

With the Star Quality Program, DHS has done some of the leg work for the parent by allowing the parent to focus on the day care providers with higher star ratings first. The stars are not only for overall performance of the day care center, but also stars are assigned for each category that is evaluated. Accordingly, parents can look at the star ratings for the categories that are most important to the parent when making the decision of which day care center to have their child attend.

Once a day care center is selected, it is the parent’s rightful expectation that a child is cared for in a manner that is professional, organized, and safe. If for some reason a child is injured while under the supervision of a day care center, the parent should reach out to a Child Injury Lawyer to discuss the child’s rights and remedies under the applicable laws in place. A good resource for parents is the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know. This book has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.