YoungStar is Wisconsin’s child care quality rating and improvement system. YoungStar has a five-star quality rating system for child care programs based on achievements in four categories: education of staff, learning environment & curriculum for children, business & professional practices, and practices that promote the child’s health and well-being. Each of these categories has proven to have a large influence in supporting the development and learning of young children. YoungStar ratings are provided to all early learning settings: family child care, group child care, school age programming (before/after school), and school age day camps. All programs can participate in YoungStar however, those programs receiving Wisconsin Shares subsidy must participate in YoungStar.

For more information visit the YoungStar website:
https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/youngstar/program

What Do The Stars Mean?

A YoungStar star rating is an easy-to-read way of letting providers show the level of quality care the program meets. It’s also a visual way for parents looking for care to know the program they are looking at is a regulated program that adheres to specific health, safety, and educational guides. Programs receive a rating of 1 – 5 stars.

YoungStar Contact

Lindsey: lhillesland@4C-forchildren.org

YoungStar Department Photo (2019)

Take a look at these PDF documents produced by the State of Wisconsin.

YoungStar Brochure for Parents

YoungStar Brochure for Providers

One Star Programs


Does not meet health and safety standards, and therefore cannot participate in YoungStar.

Two Star Programs


Meets State of Wisconsin health and safety standards for regulated programs.

Three Star Programs


Meets proficient levels of quality standards as determined by a YoungStar review.

Four Star Programs


Meets elevated levels of quality standards as determined by a YoungStar review and observation process.

Five Star Programs


Meets highest levels of quality standards as determined by a YoungStar review and observation process, or meets National Accreditation standards.

What are YoungStar services?

YoungStar provides early childhood trainings, on-site technical consultation, resources, and micro-grants that are individualized to help programs achieve their educational, environmental, and professional practice goals. Each participating program is assigned a Technical Consultant to guide the progress towards their goals.

How do programs participate in YoungStar?

All regulated programs can submit a YoungStar contract to begin their participation in the program. Providers who accept Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy payments must participate. Providers indicate on the contract if they want a rating only, or if they want the services of a technical consultant. Selecting a technical consultant opens access to a micro-grant and on-site services.

What is the difference between a rating only and selecting a technical consultant or on-site services?

Participants can select to have an automatic rating when they submit their YoungStar contract. This rating can have the following possible outcomes: 1. if the program is not accredited, they will receive a 2 Star rating indicating the program meets Wisconsin health and safety regulations; 2. If the program has achieved accreditation from a recognized professional organization, they will be rated at a higher star level. This star level is determined by YoungStar and based on the accreditation organization criteria.

By choosing to have an on-site rating by a YoungStar technical consultant, programs are indicating they want to benefit from the guidance of a person specifically trained to assist programs in achieving higher star ratings. Technical consultants can assist programs with understanding and navigating Wisconsin’s early learning systems, assist with understanding and application of practices that are known to have a positive impact on child development, increase understanding and implementation of best business practices, and guide programs in building solid and interactive family partnerships.

In addition, by selecting to have on-site technical assistance, programs also have access to micro-grant funding and professional development guidance. The micro-grant can be used to help programs access education, training, and/or materials and supplies that can help them to meet YoungStar Evaluation Criteria. The professional development guidance can assist providers in identifying their professional development path, and highlight the steps needed to achieve it.