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Grades Are In For Day Care Centers Under State's New Star-Rated License System

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WAKE COUNTY — It has been three weeks since the state's new star-rated license system for day care facilities went into effect. Centers and child care homes who got their applications in just before the deadline are now starting to find out how they stack up against the competition.

Happy faces mean a lot to parents when their children are in daycare, but a five-star license means even more.

"It makes a really big difference to me," says Tradisha McKnight who has her 8-month-old daughter, Serenity, at the Walnut Terrace Child Development Center.

The Walnut Terrace Center was one of five centers in Wake County to get five stars. Now, the center is in demand.

"We were so excited. The phone is ringing off the hook everyday," says director Connie Watson. "We have a waiting list. People are saying they saw it on the Internet."

Teachers at the Primrose Schools in Cary were also thrilled and relieved by the news that they had received five stars.

Owner Kathy Miller says the rating is a reflection of months of hard work. She says it also gives parents a good feeling about where their money goes.

"You can feel like you're five-star, but until you actually get the rating, you can't count on it," she says. "If you're at the top of the tuition market, you need to be at the top of the quality market."

The centers, which have gone through the process, say it has improved their facilities. They cite more teacher training, lower teacher/child ratios and more equipment in the classrooms as some of the biggest improvements.

More than half of the centers, which are eligible, have applied for the rated license.