The Keystone STARS Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Awards is a one-time Award paid to eligible child care programs with a Department of Human Services (DHS) regular Certificate of Compliance (CoC) and designated as a Keystone STAR 2, 3, or 4. This Award is paid through Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs), on behalf of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), directly to eligible child care programs.
A child care provider application for this award is not required. Rather, child care providers who are eligible for a Keystone STARS CQI Award will receive an Eligibility and Acceptance Letter from their ELRC. The Eligibility and Acceptance Letter will include the maximum award amount a child care provider is eligible for and contact information for their ELRC.
After spending the award on eligible expenses, the child care provider will be responsible for submitting a Keystone STARS CQI Award Final Expense Report (FER) electronically [i.e., email, fax, or through Provider Self Service (PSS)] or through United States Postal Service (USPS) to their ELRC. The FER will be available in either an Excel or PDF version. Both options for the one-page FER will be sent to eligible child care providers by the ELRC. The FER will allow the child care provider to detail how the award funds were spent.
To be eligible for a Keystone STARS CQI Award, a provider must meet all the following requirements both as of November 30, 2023, and at the time of the Award payment by the ELRC:
*See Special Consideration for STAR 1 Programs who are Actively Working to Move up in STAR Levels below.
Providers who meet the above eligibility criteria as of November 30, 2023, but fail to meet the above criteria at time of payment by the ELRC will be considered ineligible and will not receive a CQI Award.
NOTE: OCDEL is providing a policy exception for STAR 1 programs who were actively working to move up to a STAR 2, 3, or 4 designations as of November 30, 2023, and will complete their move-up designation on or before January 12, 2024. To be granted the policy exception, a STAR 1 program must have had an open designation case in the PD Registry system as of November 30, 2023. In addition, these programs must be successful in moving up to a STAR 2, 3, or 4 designations as evidenced by a completed designation case in the PD Registry System on or before January 12, 2024.
Eligible programs can use the Keystone STARS CQI Award funds for eligible expenses in the following categories:
These categories align with the Keystone STARS Performance Standards and represent the most closely associated areas with quality activity expenses for ECE programs. Award funds can be applied to eligible expenses incurred from July 1, 2023, to May 8, 2024. Providers should refer to the Keystone CQI Award FAQ for Providers for additional information on allowable expenses.
The following timeline reflects important dates for eligible programs to consider.
Beginning on December 18, 2023, eligible providers will:
Beginning on December 18, 2023, but no later than February 15, 2024, eligible providers must: