Business development

Improving your Texas Rising Star star level with a childcare management software

Learn how software can help your center provide higher quality chidcare, and ultimately, get a higher star rating
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June 12, 2024
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In a rush? Here’s the quick rundown.

  • The simplified overview of all you need to know about the Texas Rising Star program and the different star level certifications.
  • You will understand what is measured to determine your star level and the quality of your childcare
  • There are four specific categories that your center’s quality is measured by: Director & staff qualifications and training, Teacher-child interactions, Program administration, Indoor & outdoor environments 
  • You will learn why a childcare management software (like Famly) is a guaranteed way to help you increase the quality of your childcare, and ultimately reach a 4-star certification level!

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About Texas Rising Star

Texas Rising Star (TRS) is a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for all childcare programs in the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Child Care Services program.

Simply, TRS is an initiative with the objective to increase the quality of childcare across Texas. Specific criteria is measured and assessed to determine your center’s quality score, and ultimately, your star level certification.

Certification levels and star ratings

In September 2023, Texas made an official push to increase the quality of childcare by requiring all childcare centers in TWC’S Child Care Services program to meet specified minimum quality standards for Entry Level Designation. Then, they have 24 months to attain at least a 2-star level Texas Rising Star certification.

After Entry Level Designation, there are three star levels: 2-star, 3-star and 4-star. Still, even those with a 2-star rating are meeting minimum standard requirements, and are considered higher quality than most other childcare businesses in Texas. 

🌟🌟 Two-star: average score = below 1.80 (less than 60 percent of total possible points)
🌟🌟🌟Three-star: average score = 1.80 (between 60 and 79.9% of total possible points)
🌟🌟🌟🌟Four-star: average score = 2.4 or greater (80% of total possible points)

Centers are encouraged to attain progressively higher certification and star levels with incentives, such as higher reimbursement rates for children receiving scholarships and subsidies. 

The big ideas

Texas Rising Star Eligibility: How is your star level determined?

All childcare centers are assessed on two types of measurements:

  1. Structural: “met” or “not met” measures
  2. Qualitative: point-based on a scale of 0-3 points 

TRS eligibility and criteria are grouped into four categories. Below are the four categories that are measured to determine the quality of your childcare business, and ultimately, whether you are given a 2-star, 3-star or 4-star certification: 

  1. Director & staff qualifications and training (20% of your overall score)
  2. Teacher-child interactions (40% of your overall score)
  3. Program administration (20% of your overall score)
  4. Indoor & outdoor environments (20% of your overall score)

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Texas Rising Star: getting ready for assessment

Increase your star level using a childcare management software

A great way to help increase the quality of your childcare in the four categories above, and attain a higher star level is with a childcare management software, like Famly.

Childcare management software can automate and streamline many administrative tasks and reporting. However, it is important to find the right childcare management software program for your center, so that it will not only save you time, but also improve the overall quality of your center. Make sure to look for specific features that will enhance the quality of all aspects of your center: 

Texas Rising Star certification criteria

Director and staff qualifications and training

This category is to ensure that all staff have undergone suitable background checks, orientations and training. 

It also evaluates professional development, such as ongoing access to training opportunities and resources for all staff, so they can continually enhance their skills as caregivers and educators and boost their confidence in supporting children during their early development.

Using a childcare software management software, like Famly, provides you with features that will help you track, manage, and share staff personnel folders, transcripts, certifications, training plans and resources. 

For instance, with individual profiles for every staff member, you can easily find and organize all information for each staff member, including their staff qualifications. There is even the option to create and filter lists based on custom qualifications and certifications. Or plan trainings and events and invite your staff using the Calendar feature.

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Teacher-child interactions

This is the category with the most influence in your overall score. 

When reviewing your center’s teacher-child interactions, TRS is focused on how the relationship is influencing each child’s individual development and learning journey. A child's individual and successful development is largely influenced by positive interactions with their teacher that are personal, warm, nurturing, supportive, and respectful. 

In addition to following TRS’s required teacher-child ratio, they review your overall curriculum plan, your learning materials and toys, and daily routines. 

It is important that the curriculum and lessons are age and developmentally appropriate. Also, TRS specifies that the curriculum must include lessons that encourage: creative expression, positive self-esteem, social skills, cognitive skills, communication skills, health and safety habits, physical development and acceptance of diversity. 

Activities should be varied, some that are staff-initiated and some that are child-initiated, some that are indoors and outdoors, some that allow the children to spend time being quiet and active, and also encourage playing independently, in small groups and in larger groups. 

Also, don’t ignore the importance of transitions. Demonstrate that you have planned to support children with predictable transitions, as far as possible, both between activities and care routines. This will support children to navigate changes throughout their day confidently and feel a sense of ownership and independence.

Although activities should vary, routine is important, and every day should have consistent meal times, nap times, etc. 

A childcare management software could exponentially improve your teacher-child relationships and interactions. With features like individual child profiles, easy documentation of observations, automated attendance records, daily reports and activity planning and resources, a childcare management software can help you attain a 4-star certification. 

Specifically in Famly, these are just a handful of features that will help you score a higher rating in this category:

  • Easily track attendance of staff and children
  • Set up and easily manage staff-child ratios and classroom ratios, including the ability to easily move children and staff between rooms temporarily to meet ratios each day
  • Plan ahead staff schedules with Room Planner to guarantee ideal ratios ahead of time
  • Activity planner
  • Activity library
  • Daily reports, to record meals, naps, diaper changes, etc.
  • Individual profiles for every child with a notes field where you can attach files and write observations
  • Newsfeed to share photos, videos, files and observations about a child with families

Program administration

The main focus of the program administration category is the quality of your center’s parent engagement and family involvement. A higher quality childcare center is one that consistently involves families in the day-to-day and in their children’s development. 

How often does staff communicate with families? Can families easily access daily plans and activities? Are there events that parents and carers can attend? Is there a parent advisory board? Do you have ways to effectively communicate with families whose first language is not English?

Within this category, meals and snack times are also assessed. Are they enjoyable experiences? Do the meals encourage a variety of foods, conversations and manners? Are the menus in a place where families can easily access them?

Parent-staff relationships are imperative to children’s early development, as it is the bridge between the childcare and the home environment, and creates a more seamless and holistic development process. One of the best potentials of a childcare management software is its ability to facilitate and foster consistent communication and collaboration between staff and families. 

Famly’s features that are listed below will not only help you exceed TRS’s requirements for your overall program administration, but also the quality of your parent-staff relationships. 

  • Instantly communicate and collaborate with all parents and families with the Newsfeed, in-app direct messaging, calendar and events and RSVPs
  • Accident/incident reports that can easily be shared with parents, and allow parents to add their own observations to seamless connect the classroom and home environments
  • Customizable payments for all payment plans for every family, and in-app payments and automatic reminders
  • Struggling with language barriers with families whose first language isn’t English? Famly offers live translations in hundreds of languages, and we also offer our platform in Spanish!
  • Make it easy for all your staff members to communicate with parents. Famly has a new feature that is a Writing Assistant to help all your staff improve their grammar, spelling and even their tone! Learn more about Sidekick Writing Assistant here!

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Indoor and outdoor environments

This category specifically assesses whether your indoor and outdoor environments have an adequate amount of, and a variety of, age and developmentally appropriate equipment, materials and furniture. 

TRS has an extended list of specific requirements for this category. For instance, a specific amount of open space free from any furniture, and a designated quiet and private area are required. Outdoor environments should also have open space free from equipment, and some areas should be partially shaded. TRS also checks that your center has adequate equipment for sleeping, diaper changes and feeding. 

Of course, health and safety are also a primary factor in your indoor and outdoor environment quality score.

With childcare management softwares, you can keep track of all your documents including maintenance checks, incidents and accidents so that you can keep your indoor and outdoor environments well-maintained, safe, adventurous and fun. As mentioned above, Famly provides you with an activity planner and activity resources to give you fresh ideas for indoor and outdoor activities. 

Famly supports Texas Rising Star’s initiative push for high quality childcare, and we want to help you reach 🌟🌟🌟🌟!

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.