Investing in High Quality Child Care

From 2019 to 2023, GAR Foundation invested over $1 million in the STARS program. In collaboration with the Early Childhood Resource Center, STARS supported local childcare centers, demonstrating how effective coaching and training can help improve educational attainment for young children.


Over five years, the ECRC worked with more than 35 childcare centers, visiting them regularly to help with things such as:

  • Improving the quality of teacher interactions with their students through coaching and demonstrations.
  • Providing free Child Development Associate classes for teachers.
  • Increasing literacy and numeracy activities and environments in classrooms.
  • Creating meaningful parent engagement activities and events.
  • Improving business and administrative practices.
  • Assisting centers in applying for higher Step Up to Quality ratings with the State of Ohio.

While data from the end of the program is still being evaluated, there are several early indicators of its positive impact:

  • Data from the first two years of the program showed that students in STARS centers outperformed their peers on the Transition Skills Summary, an important indicator of kindergarten readiness.
  • Throughout the program, 23 centers increased their Step Up to Quality ratings, and 25 are now considered highly rated.
  • Classrooms increased their scores by an average of 73% on the ELLCO assessment, which focuses on literacy in the classroom, ensuring students have consistent access to high-quality reading and writing materials

An Everlasting Impact

STARS shows that investing in child care, from improving the quality of the classroom environment to coaching teachers to supporting administrators, can and does impact how much young children learn. While this program has ended, we are excited to take everything we’ve learned to continue improving access to high-quality childcare for all children in Akron.  

Administrators and teachers had great things to say about the program:

“The program helped with learning how to be more of a diverse teacher. How to expand on what we think, and how to get more to the children’s level. We like to think we are the best teacher out there, and STARS helped me to realize that there is always room to grow as a teacher.”