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for Parents

YoungStar rates thousands of child care programs all over Wisconsin each year, so you can find one that's right for your family.



Read the YoungStar Parent FAQ.

About the Ratings

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Make Confident Child Care Choices

YoungStar’s five-star rating system is a quick and easy way to compare the child care programs in your community. It’s a snapshot of each program’s quality. But to see the full picture of any child care program, parents should look beyond the stars. Here are a few ways to narrow down your child care options:

Check the Details

YoungStar ratings are based on the points a program earns across four key categories of care. It’s an objective system that values:

  • Educated and well-trained staff.
  • Enriching learning experiences.
  • Professional business practices.
  • Healthy, and nurturing environments.

This means a program can have excellent teachers—but if it’s still working to improve its bookkeeping habits, the program may earn fewer stars. And that makes it essential to know what’s most important to your family.

Check the YoungStar Ratings Details (available online and printed on most YoungStar certificates) to see how many points a program earns in each category. It’s a simple way to make sure the child care program you choose has the qualities you value most.

Ask About Accreditations

Do you want a child care program that keeps up with the best practices in early childhood education? Like programs that have earned 3, 4, or 5 Star ratings through the YoungStar evaluation process, accredited programs have met quality standards that exceed Wisconsin’s minimum regulatory requirements. It’s a completely voluntary process—and a good sign for parents looking for high-quality child care.

YoungStar recognizes accreditations from a variety of well-respected organizations as equivalent to 4 Stars or 5 Stars, including the National Association for the Education for Young Children, the National Association for Family Child Care, and others.

Schedule a Visit

Placing your child in another’s care can be a difficult and emotional decision. Checking a program’s objective YoungStar rating is one way to get peace of mind. Planning a visit to the program you’re considering is another. Our resources for parents can help you prepare.

Here are a few things to look for during your visit:

  • How clean and safe is the environment?
  • Do the children look happy? Are they active and engaged?
  • Does the staff look happy? Do they interact with the kids in a caring and respectful way?
  • How healthy is the food and drink? How many meals and snacks are provided each day?
  • Are there places for your child to play, nap, read, and learn? Can they spend time outdoors?