House committee advances Solomon-Mehaffie bill to assist parents with child care decisions

HARRISBURG, May 23 – The House Children and Youth Committee today advanced bipartisan legislation, co-authored by state Reps. Jared Solomon, D-Phila. and Thomas Mehaffie, R-Dauphin, which would help parents and caregivers with the difficult decision of which child care to send their children.

House Bill 1742 would require all state-licensed child care centers to post their Keystone STARS rating in a prominent location, on their websites and in informational enrollment materials given to parents.

“Parents are faced with dozens of decisions every day that impact the well-being of their child, their family and their family’s future,” Mehaffie said. “With this bill, we hope to make one of the more daunting choices a little easier by putting each facility’s quality rating front and center.”

The Keystone STARS program, operated by the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning, sets quality requirements for early childhood educators based on a four-star rating system. All licensed child care centers that meet the state’s health and safety requirements are required to be part of the Keystone STARS system.

The Keystone STARS performance standards are grouped into four levels. The standards address staff qualifications and professional development, early learning programs, partnerships with family and the community, and leadership and management.

The lawmakers added that they hope the new display requirements will encourage low-rated child care centers to improve their programs.

“My district has seen the number of child care centers balloon in the last five years, but too few are high quality,” said Solomon. “This bill, by requiring that child care providers display their Keystone Star, informs parents clearly about the quality of the child care where they choose to send their kids.  And in doing so, it makes quality a more prominent part of their decision making and encourages more child cares to become higher quality providers.”

“We have to ensure our kids are in the safest and most beneficial learning environments – that’s our No. 1 goal here,” Mehaffie added. “Not only should they be receiving the best child care, they should also get a quality educational experience.”

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.