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Information for Childcare Providers

Information for Child Care Providers

The United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area and Smart Beginnings-Thomas Jefferson Area supports the Virginia Star Quality Initiative.  The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Virginia Department of Social Services through the Office of Early Childhood Development have partnered to implement the Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI), the state's Quality Rating and Improvement System. (all links)

A Quality Rating and Improvement System is a method to assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in childcare centers and preschools. The VSQI assigns a rating, from 1 to 5 stars, to each site, to assist parents in finding a quality care provider for their child.

Programs that volunteer to participate are assessed by trained and experienced Star Quality Raters. After a program has been rated, they work with Star Quality Mentors to draft and implement a plan to help them improve their quality.

Any program that receives one star or more reflects a program with a commitment to quality. A program with a star rating shows parents and potential parents that they are exceeding standards and are committed to excellence. 

By working with local coalitions, the VSQI has spread to over 15 communities statewide, in a variety of settings, including for profit, nonprofit, faith-based and Head Start programs. 

ReadyKids is the point of contact for child care providers in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison and Orange interested in the rating process.  

United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area supports VSQI through its Child Care Scholarship Program.  The value of the scholarship increases as the quality or accreditation of a child care provider increases.  The maximum value of the scholarship is reserved for VSQI rated child care providers.


In addition to the VSQI, United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area and Smart Beginnings-Thomas Jefferson Area partners with ReadyKids and the ReadyKids Child Care Quality program.  This program includes services to ultimately result in children receiving the best possible child care while allowing a provider the opportunity and choice to move along the continuum of voluntary registration to rated.   

The program offers:

  • voluntary registration for home based providers
  • quality improvement initiatives to centers and home based care providers
  • extensive support to infant and toddler programs
  • training for new and established providers

The Program offers providers technical assistance and consultation on improving the quality of care, as well as training opportunities and marketing through the ReadyKids Resource and Referral database. 

Child Care Provider Resources:

VSQI Information for Classroom-based Programs

Information From VA Department of Social Services About Licensure, Training & Development for Child Care Providers

Information About CYFS Provider Trainings

Information About Voluntary Registration for Home Based Providers 

Information About Training from CYFS & the Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network 

Information From Child Care Aware America for Child Care Providers 

Choosing Child Care

How to Choose Childcare

Whether you're just beginning your search for child care as a new parent, or you're attempting to locate a new provider, locating quality child care can be tricky. Think of these 5 Steps To Choosing Care:

• Start Early  -  Finding the right child care option can take some time.

• Make a Call - Begin your search by calling your local experts.  ReadyKids is our local Child Care Quality Partner. 

• Visit and Ask Questions - Find out about these key indicators of quality: 

  • Adult to Child Ratio
  • Group Size
  • Caregiver Qualifications – have they been rated by VSQI? Do they participate in CYFS programs? Are they licensed? Have the teachers taken early childhood classes through Piedmont Virginia Community College?

• Make a Choice - make the best choice for your child and family depending on your family’s current situation.

• Stay Involved - You and your child's caregiver are partners now.

Child Care Aware of America offers many more helpful tools on questions you should ask when deciding on a provider. Visit them here to find out more.

One very important tool parents in Virginia may use to help decide on a child care provider is the Virginia Star Quality Initiative. The VSQI was created to help parents and caregivers find high quality child care programs throughout Virginia. Each participating preschool, child care program, or family child care home is given a star rating, from one to five stars. Programs that volunteer to participate in the VSQI are rated on many factors including:

  • Is the staff qualified? Do they have a degree in early childhood? Do they go to workshops to continue their training? 
  • How do the teachers interact with your child? Do they talk with your child? Do they support your child's social and emotional growth? How do they discipline children? Do they have a positive attitude towards the children? Do they encourage children to learn and be creative? 
  • How many children are in the classroom or the family child care program? How many teachers or assistant teachers are in the classroom? 
  • How is the classroom furnished? What kinds of activities are offered? Are there materials for children to do art, read, play dress-up, or play music? Is it clean? Do the children get to play outside? 
  • How do they help get your child ready for school? 

Children in high quality child care settings are more successful in school and life, so choosing a preschool, child care program, or family child care home is one of the most important decisions parents and families can make. By selecting a program with a star rating, you can be confident that your child is in good hands. To get started, call or visit the local VSQI rated centers listed above.

The United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area supports VSQI-rated providers through its Child Care Scholarship Program (live link to united way secondary scholarship page). Parents choosing a VSQI-rated provider receive a scholarship that pays 85% of the weekly child care fee; whereas, choosing a non-rated provider results in a scholarship of only 65-75%.



806 East High Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Smart Beginnings Charlottesville/Albemarle has transitioned to a regional effort.

Smart Beginnings Thomas Jefferson Area covers the counties of Fluvanna, Louisa, Greene, Albemarle and Nelson and the City of Charlottesville. We will be focusing on a broad public awareness campaign for FY14, and continue to support our investments in home visiting and quality child care. 

The Smart Beginnings Leadership Council has combined with the United Way Thomas Jefferson Area School Readiness Impact Team.

Leadership members include:girl-reading-book

Mike Chinn, chair; Suzanne Brooks; Carolyn Cullen;

Chris Fairchild; Adrian Felts; Frank Friedman; 

Phil Garland; Michael Geismar; Amanda Hoffman;

Eric Johnson;Eric Keathley; Chris Laing; Chris Lee;

Steve Nichols; Eric Spooner; Bill Wardle.

For more information, please contact:

Barbara Hutchinson

Director of Community Initiatives


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