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YoungStar Quality Adjustment Information

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The legislature has allocated funding to resume the YoungStar quality adjustment system for 4 and 5 Star providers who care for children enrolled in the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program. This system will start again in January 2024. 

What is a quality adjustment?

Since YoungStar began in 2011, the program has included financial supports to help providers improve and maintain quality practices. One of these supports is quality adjustments, which is additional funding beyond the maximum subsidy rate, that providers can use to maintain quality practices, reduce parent share, and more. These adjustments were transitioned to the Child Care Counts program to enhance the investment and reach more providers. Now, the legislature has provided funding and direction to reinstate the quality adjustment system outside of Child Care Counts.

Quality adjustment payments are made up of a percentage of the total dollar amount of subsidy authorizations for a provider for a given month. These payments are deposited directly in your bank account through ACH.

Who is eligible for adjustments?

Providers who receive 4 or 5 Star ratings on the YoungStar Quality Rating and Improvement System and who care for children enrolled in the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program are eligible for quality adjustment payments. If you accept Wisconsin Shares but are not currently serving any families receiving the subsidy, you will not receive an adjustment.

What percentages will the adjustments be?

When they began in January 2024, adjustment percentages were set at: 

  • 13% for 4 Star providers
  • 26% for 5 Star providers

Beginning with the March 2024 payment, through the June 2024 payment, adjustment percentages will be increased to: 

  • 15% for 4 Star providers
  • 30% for 5 Star providers

These percentages have been established to maximize payments within the available funding. Based on DCF monitoring of spending and available funding, these percentages will be increased beginning with the March 2024 payment. Percentages will remain at this level through the June 2024 payment. Information on percentages for July 2024 will be communicated to providers by June.

Payment Month *Adjustment Percentage
January 2024 – February 2024
  • 13% for 4 Star providers
  • 26% for 5 Star providers
March 2024 - June 2024
  • 15% for 4 Star providers
  • 30% for 5 Star providers
July 2024 and beyond Adjustment percentage is not yet available, and will be communicated to providers by June.

* Quality adjustment payments are made up of a percentage of the total dollar amount of subsidy authorizations for a provider for a given month.


Frequently Asked Questions

Review the Frequently Asked Questions for additional details. 

When will I receive my first adjustment? 

Quality adjustments are available to 4 and 5 Star rated providers serving children receiving Wisconsin Shares beginning in January 2024.

How long will the YoungStar quality adjustment be in place?

DCF currently has funding available for YoungStar quality adjustments through June 2025.

What if I am a 2 or 3 Star provider?

You will see no change in subsidy amounts and will not receive a quality adjustment. Per State Statue, the Department of Children and Families cannot provide adjustments beyond the maximum subsidy rate for providers who receive 2 and 3 Star ratings. 

Will there be a reduction for 2 Star providers?

No, parents will not receive a reduction from their subsidy benefit for using a 2 Star provider.

How will I be informed of any changes?

Any updates to the quality adjustment system will be communicated through the Child Care Listserv and on the YoungStar Quality Adjustment webpage.  

Do I have to use the YoungStar quality adjustment funds for specific allowable expenses? Are there any restrictions on how the quality adjustment funds are used? 

No. Quality adjustment payments are paid directly to the provider to help improve and maintain quality practices, reduce parent share, and more. YoungStar quality adjustment payments do not have any specific allowable uses, spending restrictions, or spending deadlines.

Are YoungStar quality adjustment funds subject to audit?  

Yes. YoungStar quality adjustment audits may be conducted to confirm that you have the correct star rating.

Will eligible providers receive both the Child Care Counts Quality Incentive Per-Staff amount, and the YoungStar Quality Adjustment payment?

Yes. Eligible providers may receive both the Quality Incentive from Child Care Counts, as well as the YoungStar quality adjustment. In order to receive quality payments through the YoungStar quality adjustment, providers must have either a 4 or 5 Star rating, and be currently caring for children who receive Wisconsin Shares.

The table below reflects the transition of available funding.  

November 2021 December 2021 January 2022 - December 2023 Beginning January 2024*
YoungStar Quality Adjustment Child Care Counts Payment Child Care Counts Payment Child Care Counts Payment
  YoungStar Quality Adjustment   YoungStar Quality Adjustment

*Eligible providers may receive both the Child Care Counts Quality Incentive base per-staff payment as well as the YoungStar quality adjustment. The Child Care Counts program and the YoungStar quality adjustment have funding allocated through June 2025.

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How will I receive my adjustment?  

YoungStar quality adjustment payments will be deposited directly in providers’ bank account through ACH. Providers can view their adjustment information in the Provider Portal.

Why do the adjustment percentages change? Will they change again? 

Adjustment percentages can change because: 

  • DCF has a specific amount of funding allocated for quality adjustments, and 
  • the amount that is paid out through the quality adjustments fluctuates each month.

Payments are made up a percentage of the total dollar amount of subsidy authorizations for a provider for a given month. This total dollar amount can change for each provider, depending on how many children in their care have Wisconsin Shares authorizations each month. 

Because of this fluctuation in spending of funds, DCF does continuous monitoring and projection of remaining funding. Adjustment percentages may be increase or decreased in order to remain within the available finding, and to maximize payments to ensure that all funds are spent within the deadline that DCF must adhere to (in this case, the state fiscal year).

If changes to the adjustment percentages are needed, this will be communicated to providers in advance.