You might call it a grading scale for child care centers.

When the Virginia Star Quality Initiative started in the Roanoke Valley five years ago, there were only four child care centers that were star- rated.

Now there are 23.

Working to become star- rated is a voluntary mission for day care centers across the state, which are looking to make improvements.

The initiative looks at four key areas, including staff training and teacher qualifications, student- teacher ratios, materials and activities in the classrooms and the quality of interaction between teachers and kids.

That checklist helps parents make more informed decisions about child care and pre-school.