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Seeing STARS

The grade on children's programs in Colchester, Essex, Jericho, Milton, Underhill and Winooski

Vermont's Step Ahead Recognition System (STARS) is designed to help parents evaluate programs that care for their kids. Sponsored by the Child Development Division of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, STARS assigns star rankings to participating childcare, preschool and after school programs.

The process is much more thorough than a simple site visit. To receive a ranking, programs must complete an application that assesses progress in five areas: compliance with state regulations; staff qualifications and training; communication and support of children, families and communities, providers' self-assessments and plans for improvements; and the strength of a program's operating policies and business practices. Simply by completing the application, programs demonstrate a desire to go above and beyond the minimum state standards.

The STARS coordinators assign applicants one to five stars. A single star means a program is new or examining its practices and working to improve them; a five-star ranking signifies that a program is established and outstanding in all areas. A ranking is good for three years, though each applicant must complete an annual review to maintain it.

STARS helps parents assess a program's quality and professionalism, and it can also save them money. Parents who meet the state's income eligibility guidelines may pay less for childcare if they enroll their children in programs with three, four or five stars.

Each month, Kids VT publishes an excerpt of the list of STARS participants. This month's "Seeing STARS" features participating programs in Colchester, Essex, Jericho, Milton, Underhill and Winooski. Find more information about STARS, a complete list of rankings and other childcare resources at

Shining Star: Children's Preschool and Enrichment Center Inc.

  • 39 Main Street, Essex, 878-1060
  • Type of program: Full-year preschool program
  • Year opened: 1987
  • Age range of children: 3 to 5 years old; children who have been in kindergarten can attend in summer.
  • Last field trip: Green Mountain Audubon Center
  • Favorite rainy-day activity: "Scary Afternoon" with books and flashlights to help process fears in a safe atmosphere
  • Favorite song: "Jump Up and Down" 
  • Most recent staff development activity: In-service day with "Medicine Administration" in the morning; "Strengthening Families" in the afternoon


Carolyn's Red Balloon
40 Severance Green, Suite 101, 878-5001
5 stars

Little Feats Daycare
5857 Roosevelt Highway, 878-4220
4 stars

Essex & Essex Junction

Children's Preschool and Enrichment Center, Inc.
39 Main Street, 878-1060
5 stars

Ed-U-Care Children's Center
5 Ewing Place, 879-4427
3 stars

EJRP Preschool
75 Maple Street, 878-1375
3 stars

Essex Town Preschool
1 Bixby Hill Road, 878-2584
3 stars

Green Mountain Montessori School
8 Jericho Road, 879-9114
1 star

Hand In Hand Creative Learning Center
3 Oliver Wight Drive, 524-6028
4 stars

Hiawatha Early Education
34 Hiawatha Avenue, 878-1386
4 stars

Kangaroo Corner Child Care Facility
26 Susie Wilson Road, 872-2772
1 star

Lorrie's Daycare
14 Colbert Street, 878-4603
2 stars

Organic Kids
8 Murray Road, 879-7559
2 stars

Summit Street Elementary School
51 Park Street, 872-3266
4 stars

Y School Age Program at Essex
Essex Elementary School, 1 Bixby Hill Road, 350-2252
4 stars

Y School Age Program at Founders School in Essex
Founders School, 33 Founders Road, 350-2249
4 stars


Good Shepherd Preschool
273 Route 15, 899-3989
5 stars

Saxon Hill School
7 Red Mill Drive, 899-3832
5 stars


Berry Patch Child Care
49 Strawberry Lane, 893-7822
5 stars

Charlotte Little
34 Villemaire Lane, 893-6625
2 stars

Diane's Day Care
48 Railroad Street, 893-4530
2 stars

Doodlebug Daycare
724 Route 7 South, 893-0530
2 stars

Imagination Island Child Care
52 Maplewood Avenue, 893-7501
5 stars

Little Feats Too
9 Checkerberry Square, 893-4569
3 stars

Milton After School Kids (MASK)
Milton Family Community Center, 23 Villemaire Lane, 893-1457
3 stars

Milton Family Community Center
23 Villemaire Lane, 893-1457
5 stars


Child Works Preschool and Child Care
63 Timber Ridge Road, 899-4976
5 stars

Poker Hill School
209 Poker Hill Road, 899-3716
4 stars

Underhill/Jericho Preschool Program
6 Irish Settlement Road, 899-4676
5 stars


Winooski Early Childhood Program
60 Normand Street, 655-0411
4 stars

Winooski Family Center
80 Normand Street, 655-1422
5 stars

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.