Star Rating

Quality First – Star Rating
The Quality First Star Rating System is a voluntary quality rating system that helps families in the state of Arizona find quality child care. Quality star ratings are an important indicator of child care quality. A quality rating system also helps child care providers improve the quality of their care.
Quality First – a signature program of First Things First – partners with child care and preschool providers to improve the quality of early learning across Arizona.

What is a Star Rating
The quality of each program is assessed using valid and reliable tools that focus on what research shows are the key components of quality early care, including adult-child interactions, learning environments and staff qualifications. Based on these assessments, each program is given a Quality First Star Rating, ranging from 1 to 5 stars.

Why Star Ratings? 
First Things First launched Quality First to partner with child care and preschool programs around the state to improve the quality of early learning in Arizona. Quality First provides each enrolled program with coaching and funding, and the program’s leadership and staff provides the dedication and hard work.

Quality First is about continuous quality improvement. The standards are high, and reaching the quality levels is often a long-term process. Programs achieving Star Ratings in the quality levels (3 stars and above) have met these standards. And all participating programs are committed to quality and are making improvements that help prepare kids for school and life.

Programs are assessed every one or two years, depending on their previous rating, and receive a new Star Rating with each assessment. Star Ratings help guide the improvement process by providing both an objective measure of each program’s quality and a goal to achieve.

Quality First Star Ratings also help parents make more informed decisions when looking for a quality child care or preschool program. Parents report that quality is a very important factor in choosing a program for their infant, toddler or preschooler, and Star Ratings are reliable, easy-to-understand indicators of quality. The Star Rating of each program is made public after at least one year of participating in Quality First and is posted at the program’s location as well as this website. First Things First also stresses to parents that ratings are just one of several factors to consider in finding the right program for their family’s needs.

What Quality First Star Ratings Mean
Quality early learning settings build on basic health and safety to include teachers who know how to work with young children, learning environments that nurture the development of every child, and positive, consistent relationships and interactions that give children the individual attention they need.

Keep in mind that participation in Quality First is voluntary, and all programs enrolled in Quality First have made a commitment to improvements that research shows help young children thrive.

✯✯✯✯✯  Five Stars, Highest Quality      – Far exceeds quality standards
✯✯✯✯    Four Stars, Quality Plus           – Exceeds quality standards
✯✯✯          Three Stars, Quality                 – Meets quality standards
✯✯ ​        Two Stars, Progressing Star   – Approaching quality standards
✯                    One Star, Rising Star               – Committed to quality improvement

Criteria for Star Ratings Includes:

  • Health and safety practices that promote children’s basic well being
  • Staff qualifications, including experience working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers as well as training or college coursework in early childhood development and education
  • Teacher-child interactions that are positive, consistent and nurture healthy development and learning
  • Learning environments, including age-appropriate books, toys and learning materials that promote emotional, social, language and cognitive development
  • Lessons that follow state requirements or recommendations for infants, toddlers and preschoolers
  • Group sizes that give young children the individual attention they need
  • Child assessment and parent communication that keeps families regularly informed of their child’s development

For more information about Quality First, please visit