EDUCATION Pillar Highlight: Keystone Star Movement

Keystone STAR Movement Easier with Quality Coaching

Sheila Harris, owner of Mama’s Little Angels Learning Center, and her staff have successfully completed the work to move their early learning center on Perrysville Avenue from a Keystone STAR 1 to Keystone STAR 2.

Ms. Harris credits their success to the support and encouragement received from their Quality Coach, Shawna Preston. Shawna is a Quality Coach for the Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRC) 5, in Allegheny County, and Trying Together.

A Quality Coach, as Shawna explains, is available for anything that a childcare provider needs.

“We try to be a one-stop shop for our childcare providers, anything they need, if we don’t have the answer, we’ll look for it, we’ll find it. We go in and do classroom support. We do training, professional development for providers and teachers as well. Any kind of supports, grants, Keystone STARs is a huge part of our job.”

Keystone STARS, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, is a responsive quality rating and improvement system to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs. STARS stands for Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources and Supports.

An early learning program in Pennsylvania can earn STAR 1 to a STAR 4 level. The STAR rating is based on research-based quality standards that measures four areas:

  • Staff Education
  • Learning Environment
  • Leadership Management
  • Family and Community Partnerships

For Shelia Harris, moving from STAR 1 to STAR 2 at Mama’s Little Angels “was a lot of work but it was fun,” She loved her Quality Coach and the level of support she received.

“We could call her anytime and she was there. She’d come out, she made sure we had everything that we needed it, checked over our paperwork, and assured her that we had completed everything before we actually moved on to a STAR 2, so we wouldn’t have to go back and start over. We could call her anytime, send her an email in the middle of the night. She was wonderful. We could call on, not only Shawna, but anybody that was connected to Trying Together.”

Shawna states, “it does take a time and commitment effort into moving forward in STAR program, but they (Mama’s Little Angels) definitely made that commitment and they’re moved up to STAR 2 and we were so excited and I’m super proud of them.”

Ms. Harris opened Mama’s Little Angels in 2006 with the goal of creating a place where the children could feel comfortable away from home. Their motto, “Home Away from Home” still rings true today and includes not only the children in the center but the whole family.

“Our goal is to help children reach their goal and to be there not only for the children but for the whole family, working in their environment, the community, whatever we can do to help,” says Ms. Harris.

When asked what advice she would give to her peers about the work her and her team did to move from STAR 1 to STAR 2, Ms. Harris responded, “to put in the time, because it is worth it.”

Families can reach Ms. Harris at Mama’s Little Angels by calling 412-323-1314. To find high-quality child care, get financial assistance or to inquire about professional growth opportunities, contact Early Learning Resource Center 5 at 412-350-3577, email or visit Trying Together also offers several resources for families and early learning educators. Visit their website at

Learn more by watching the video below!


Early Learning Resource Center 5 –

Trying Together –