This post highlights a policy recommendation from our new report, The Quest for Equity and Quality Examining Provider Experiences and Participation in Texas Rising Star. This report, released 4/4/22, explores data from a statewide survey and focus groups in which providers were asked about their experiences with Texas Rising Star. 

The last thing providers mentioned during the focus group was that the surprise and frequency of visits were stress-inducing, especially when they are overwhelmed from having to juggle many competing daily responsibilities. During the 87th Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature passed HB 1792 which requires centralization of TRS Assessors. Previously, each LWDB oversaw the assessment processes in addition to mentoring and other quality initiatives for their region. While each LWDB has the same goal of achieving quality care, their different processes created inconsistencies across the state. As this new legislation is implemented, it seeks to increase the efficiency and equity for providers seeking to become TRS certified by centralizing TRS Assessors under one entity.

Other states have taken a more strength-based approach within their QRIS to emphasize the importance of improvement over accountability and deviate from a “check list” mentality that can hinder providers from improving their ratings. States’ QRIS like Oregon have rebranded and are now identifying the “R” in QRIS as Recognition instead of Rating to emphasize continuous growth rather than ratings. Similarly, Delaware is initiating a QRIS revision through a hybrid model with goals of delivering provider support structures to encourage Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). Delaware is moving away from points and threshold scales and opting for Standards as their broad content areas, such as Relationship with Children, Key Practices for sub-areas, and giving providers Pathways which outlines steps that a providers can take to improve their program for a respective Standard. Rather than a single star representing their quality, Delaware Stars is pushing to implement a provider profile where parents can see how a program is performing within each quality Standard.

Including a holistic assessment approach during the certification process would help increase transparency between the assessor and director. This could include a post-visit debrief session with an optional justification process to help maintain or increase their star-rating. Additionally, providers expressed their preference for their assessor having experience in their type of program. For example, an assessor certifying a home provider would have ideally worked in that type of program setting. Providers noted that having an assessor understand the specific needs and challenges of operating a center-based program vs a family child care program would ensure a smoother certification process.

The CHILDREN AT RISK Early Childhood Education team will be discussing this report in depth throughout their virtual Texas Tour events in April 2022. They will also review strategies going into the 88th legislative session and present new Child Care Desert maps.