Policy Resource

Arkansas' Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

Nov 13, 2017

In July 2010, Arkansas initiated a new quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) to give child care providers a clear path to improve their programs and provide parents with the knowledge and tools needed to identify high-quality child care in their communities.

Better Beginnings is the culmination of almost five years of work spurred by the Arkansas Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Initiative. Hundreds of early childhood professionals were involved in designing the new approach. Better Beginnings functions as a voluntary three-tier system that evaluates programs along five component areas:

  1. Administration
  2. Administrator and staff qualifications and professional development
  3. Learning environment
  4. Environmental assessment
  5. Child health and development

Requirements are aligned with the state’s early learning guidelines and core competencies for professionals.

Programs must meet all the requirements at one level before advancing to the next. The state provides technical assistance (TA) at no cost, a guide for center-based programs, an online toolkit for both center-based programs and family child care homes, and application checklists for center-based programs and family child care homes to help providers prepare for and achieve certification.

All licensed and registered child care providers, including family child care homes and facilities serving school-age children, are eligible to participate in Better Beginnings. Incentive grants are awarded to facilities that achieve star certification to help them improve and/or maintain their quality level. Grant amounts are slightly larger at the lowest star level to encourage and support programs in working toward meeting the higher standards at levels two and three.

The Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education maintains a website of all licensed and registered child care providers that allows parents to search by star level. The Better Beginnings website also has resources to help parents understand the importance of high-quality child care and how best to find it in their communities.

Updated October 2019

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