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What is Maryland EXCELS?

Maryland EXCELS is a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). A QRIS is a program that awards ratings to registered family child care providers, licensed child care centers (Head Start, Letter of Compliance facilities, school-age only child care), and public pre-K programs that meet increasingly higher standards of quality in key areas.

Maryland EXCELS is a voluntary program designed to increase parent and provider awareness of the elements of high quality early care and education, to recognize and support providers who are meeting those standards, and to educate families and the community about the importance of high quality child care. Maryland EXCELS has three major goals:

  • To recognize early care and school age education programs for their level of quality
  • To encourage providers to increase the level of quality provided in their programs
  • To provide parents with information and choices about quality child care

What is the difference between licensing and a QRIS?

The Maryland State Department of Education’s Office of Child Care is responsible for issuing licenses and registrations, regulating child care, monitoring compliance with licensing requirements, conducting licensing visits, investigating complaints, and taking enforcement actions on programs found to be in violation of child care regulations. Maryland licensing/registration requirements are written into the Code of Maryland Regulations, and are required for all child care providers to operate legally in the state. Licensing/registration regulations set the minimum standards to ensure that the basic health, safety, and developmental needs of children are being met.

Maryland EXCELS includes licensing as the very first rating level in the process. As a participating provider in EXCELS, maintaining basic health and safety requirements is essential. Maryland EXCELS requires programs to take ownership over the self-evaluation, improvement, and demonstration of the quality of care the program provides. Through EXCELS, programs determine strengths and weaknesses, identify goals, and develop clear plans and activities to achieve those goals.

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What areas are covered under Maryland EXCELS?

Maryland EXCELS includes standards in licensing, accreditation, staffing and professional development, developmentally appropriate learning practices, administrative policies and procedures, and family and community partnerships.

How do I become a participating program in Maryland EXCELS?

Any licensed child care center (including Head Start and school-age only program), registered family child care home provider, or public preschool that is in compliance with licensing or other state requirements.

How are the ratings determined?

Each program in Maryland EXCELS is given a rubric for the standards to be met, according to program type and accreditation status. Each rubric includes artifacts or evidence for each level in each standard content area. Programs upload or gather the evidence for each level, and the evidence is reviewed by the Program Coordinator. Once the evidence has been reviewed, the Program Coordinator verifies the appropriate rating level.

How is the Maryland EXCELS rating published?

Maryland EXCELS ratings will be posted on the Maryland EXCELS website. Parents, community members, and the public will be able to search the website to find participating programs in their area.

How long does the rating last?

Program improvement happens every day, so the Maryland EXCELS system is designed to reflect that. Program ratings don’t “expire,” as long as a program continues to make progress or sustain the EXCELS level. However, programs must submit a yearly report to update their program’s status, and at level 5 must maintain the accreditation awarded.

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