FAQs for Child Care and Early Learning Providers about Step Up To Quality

Q: What is Step Up To Quality?

A: The State of Ohio has established a five-star rating system, called Step Up To Quality (or SUTQ), for programs offered by licensed child care and early learning providers, including those in school districts, child care facilities, and family homes. Step Up To Quality promotes standards that exceed licensing health and safety regulations, and have been proven to lead to improved outcomes for children. SUTQ is a clear method to evaluate and guide providers toward measurable long-term success.

Q: How can Action for Children help me with SUTQ?

A: As an organization dedicated to serving those who serve Ohio’s youngest children, Action for Children works hand-in-hand with child care and early learning providers. We’re here to help you navigate SUTQ with a range of no- and low-cost training, tools, resources, and guidance. If you need coaching to improve your classroom environment, advice on enrolling in a professional development course, ideas for getting parents involved in your program, or assistance on filling out the SUTQ paperwork, our team of experts can help. We’ll come to your site for one-on-one guidance, and you can attend trainings, workshops, and SUTQ submission fairs at our offices and those of our partners. 

Q: How are star ratings determined?

A: SUTQ evaluates providers and awards points according to four areas:

  • Learning and Development:
    • Is the program using research-based curricula aligned to Ohio’s early learning and development standards for birth to kindergarten entry?
    • Staff Qualifications and Professional Development: Have administrators, teachers, and assistant teachers obtained required credentials and ongoing professional development hours?
    • Administrative and Leadership Practices: To what extent does the program adhere to an annual continuous improvement process?
  • Family and Community Partnerships:
    • How well does the program engage families and community partners to support children while they are enrolled in the program and as they transition into and out of the program?

Q: I’m a home child care provider so my resources and financial support aren’t the same as a school district or corporate care center. How can I compete?

A: SUTQ takes account of the differences among types of providers, with evaluations geared to capacity of the provider, care environment, number of children served, and other criteria. We’ve worked with family child care providers for nearly 50 years and understand your unique needs as well as the critical role you play for your families and our community.

Q: Are there benefits to getting rated?

A: Absolutely!

  • When you have a SUTQ rating, parents (and the community in general) know that you’re working hard to give youngsters the very best early learning experience. You may see greater numbers of parents looking to entrust their kids to your care.
  • If you work with children receiving state subsidies, the amount of money you receive for each child in your program increases with each star your program earns. Becoming rated at the 1-star level amounts to a sizable increase in the rate at which you are reimbursed for providing care to children receiving publicly-funded child care.
  • Because SUTQ includes guidance on professional development, education, wage structures, and other supports for staff you may see increased pride and decreased turnover among your team members.

Q: How do I get another star for my program?

A. When you want to raise your star rating, you must meet additional criteria as determined by the state. You can find a detailed explanation of the criteria here, and Action for Children would be happy to coach you through what you can do next.

Note: Attachments at the bottom of the webpage include the standards for each Star.

To find out more about how Action for Children can help you, please visit, or call us at 614.224.0222.