DENISON, Texas (KTEN)— Changes are on the horizon for state-funded child care providers in Texas. Starting October 3, providers that get child care assistance funding through the Texas Workforce Commission will have to participate in the Texas Rising Star rating program.

"It is up to four stars. You can get increased reimbursement rates along the way if you're a Texas Rising Star provider," said Texoma Workforce Solutions deputy director Marsha Lindsey. "There's also trainings offered at no cost to you and your faculty."

Providers will have two years to become certified, with a final deadline in September 2024. Assistance will be offered throughout the process. 

"We'll provide mentoring; we provide training for them," Lindsey said. "There's also going to be probably some financial incentives once you meet those benchmarks. It's really a win-win for everybody to be involved in this process."

MasterKey Bilingual Academy in Sherman has been a four-star center for almost three years. Director Amy Hampton said they had few issues becoming certified.

"I personally think there's no reason why anybody shouldn't do it," Hampton said. "It's beneficial financially also because you get more money from child care subsidies if you're a Texas Rising Star provider."

The goal of the rating system is to increase the quality of care that children receive and prepare them to enter public school. It ranks child care providers based on criteria like teacher-to-child ratio and the overall quality of the child's environment.

"They want things at the child's eye level, not put way up high where the child can't see it," Hampton said. "Just make sure the room is more child-focused, and everything is more developmentally appropriate for them."

Dates for upcoming information sessions and other resources are available through Workforce Solutions Texoma.