What are STARS and MERIT?
STARS is the State Training and Registry System, and it's the professional development system of the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF). STARS has certain training requirements for school-age child care providers which can be met by workshops and trainings from School's Out Washington.
MERIT is the Managed Education and Registry Information Tool, a website where you can apply to be a registered school-age child care provider, find STARS-approved trainings, and apply for training reimbursements.
Apply here to become a Licensed Care School-Age Provider.
Who needs STARS credit?
Only certain employees of licensed child care centers in the state of Washington need to obtain STARS credits every year. Those people:
- Work with children and youth ages 4-12.
- Work as a director, program supervisor, or lead teacher.
Those who work with children under the age of 4 are required to take a different kind of training, which School's Out Washington does not offer.
What will I learn at a STARS-approved workshop or training?
Our STARS-approved workshops and classes will improve your skills in the 10 Washington State Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals. These 10 Core Competencies are:
- Child/Adolescent Growth and Development
- Learning Environment and Curriculum
- Child/Adolescent Observation and Assessment
- Families, Communities, and Schools
- Safety and Wellness
- Interactions with Children/Youth
- Program Planning and Development
- Professional Development and Leadership
- Cultural Competency and Responsiveness
- Youth Empowerment
Learn More about the Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals.
What kind of STARS-approved workshops and classes do I need to take?
Different school-age professionals are required to attend different trainings depending on their position and how long they have been working for a licensed school-aged provider. Most of our community workshops and many sessions at the annual Bridge Conference can fulfill these requirements.
Newly-hired staff must complete the School-Age Initial Training Requirement, 30 hours worth of training that will provide an overview of all 10 core competency content areas.
School's Out offers this training in person and by contract as a customized training.
- To see if any are currently scheduled, check our workshop schedule.
- To schedule a customized training, please contact Nerrisah Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you would like to be alerted when an initial training is coming to your area, sign up for our newsletter and workshop announcements.
All others must complete at least 10-hours (10 STARS credits) of continuing education each calendar year. For directors and program supervisors in their first two calendar years in that position, at least five of those hours must develop Content Area VIII, Professional Development and Leadership, of the Core Competencies. After their second year, only three will need to be in this core competency.
All other staff have the choice to develop their skills in any of the 10 core competencies.
For more questions, contact your DCYF licensor or local licensing office.
How do I get STARS credit for a School's Out workshop or training?
First off, you need a STARS ID! You don't get this from us, but from the MERIT website through the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families. If you don't have one yet, you can register here. If you have one but forgot it, or if you are unsure, you can look up your ID here.
Once you have a STARS ID, you just need to be sure to provide it to us. For community workshops and the Bridge conference, there is an option for this on the registration form. For other trainings, our staff will provide a sign-in form where you will have to write your STARS ID to get credit. We'll handle the rest!
How can I get reimbursed for taking STARS-approved trainings with School's Out Washington?
Yes! If your employer won't pay for it, you can be reimbursed by the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) for up to $250 worth of STARS-approved trainings per year. You can apply for a reimbursement after you have registered for one of our community workshop or the Bridge conference.
Learn more here (pdf link).
Can extra/surplus credits be used next year?
Yes. If you take more than 10 STARS credits worth of classes in any calendar year, you can use the extra credits towards your 10-credit requirement the following year.