Welcome! This Toolkit provides information and resources to support you in making quality improvements in your early childhood or school-age program. We invite you to explore these resources designed to guide your Maryland EXCELS experience and enhance the quality of your program.

What is Maryland EXCELS?

Excellence Counts

Maryland EXCELS stands for Excellence Counts in Early Learning and School-Age Care.

Quality Rating and Improvement System

Maryland EXCELS is a tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) that emphasizes:

  • Self-evaluation and goal setting
  • Best practices
  • Continuous quality improvement


Maryland EXCELS aims to:

  • Recognize early childhood and school-age programs for their achievements and commitment to quality
  • Provide a path of continuous quality improvement
  • Communicate to families and the public the importance of quality care and education choices


Any licensed or registered child care program and all public prekindergarten programs are eligible to participate in Maryland EXCELS.

Inclusive Practices

The Maryland EXCELS standards promote inclusive practices. In an inclusive program, children with and without special health care needs or disabilities have access to the same routines, play, and learning experiences. All children benefit from participating in programs that are responsive to each child’s strengths and needs.

Did You Know?


Maryland EXCELS participants have access to a variety of benefits such as discounts, personalized help both online and face-to-face, and free marketing and advertising opportunities.

Child Care Scholarship

Publishing a Maryland EXCELS quality rating allows programs to receive Child Care Scholarship reimbursements. These funds may be used however a program chooses. For example, the payments can be used to decrease the cost of care for families, provide benefits for staff, or to make quality improvements to your program.

Increased scholarship payments are available to programs that publish at Quality Ratings 3, 4, or 5. These increases range from 10% to 44%.

Additional Achievements

Maryland EXCELS recognizes programs that go above and beyond the Maryland EXCELS Quality Ratings. Programs that earn any of these Additional Achievements will receive badges that are posted on the Maryland EXCELS website and mobile app. Families looking for care can easily identify programs that have earned any of these Additional Achievements:

  • Accredited Program
  • Asthma & Allergy Friendly Program
  • Cultural and Linguistic Competency
  • Eco-Friendly Program
  • Health and Wellness
  • Quality Business Practices

Community Partners

Maryland EXCELS works with community partners to make sure that families and the community know about the programs participating in Maryland EXCELS.

Social Media

Maryland EXCELS is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Follow us for more tips and great resources.

How to be successful?

Get Organized

Best business practices support the idea that the more organized we are, the more efficient we are at the work we do. We are also viewed and treated more professionally by others.

Organizing the documents you use in your program contributes to your success and helps you achieve a Maryland EXCELS quality rating.

Set Goals and Prioritize Tasks

Consider making a list of goals you would like to accomplish with Maryland EXCELS.

  • Are you working towards publishing a rating for the first time?
  • Are you looking to achieve a higher quality rating?
  • Do you have policies you’d like to develop or revise?

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-oriented and help you focus your efforts to achieve your goals.

Schedule time to work on your goals

You are juggling many responsibilities. Whether you have 30 minutes or 3 hours, setting aside specific time to work on Maryland EXCELS may help to minimize feeling overwhelmed. Remember that your Program Coordinator is available by appointment, and even during non-traditional business hours to help you.

Checking your email every few days helps you stay in touch with the Maryland EXCELS team.

Take time to reflect and act

The primary goal of Maryland EXCELS is ongoing improvement. There is no “race to the finish”; once your application is accepted you have 12 months to achieve and publish a quality rating. This is a personalized experience of growth that allows you to move at your own pace and in a way that makes sense for you. Do not be discouraged by minor setbacks. Instead, reflect on where you’ve been, how far you’ve come, and where you are headed. You have an incredible opportunity to impact many lives in the work you do. Celebrate small successes and embrace the power you hold to improve the quality of care for children and families.

It takes a village

Maryland EXCELS offers a wide range of supports and resources to participating programs. Take advantage of the help that is available. There are support teams available to assist you in your journey.

Where do I get help?

Program Coordinators

Your Program Coordinator reviews the documents you submit as you work to earn quality ratings. You can contact your Program Coordinator via email, phone, or through the Maryland EXCELS System. Learn more about how a Program Coordinator can support you.

Quality Assurance Specialists

Quality Assurance Specialists (QASs) work in regional licensing offices throughout Maryland and:

  • Provide information about Maryland EXCELS
  • Offer on-site consultation and support to Maryland EXCELS participants
  • Assist programs with the standards and the online process
  • Conduct Continuous Quality Improvement Visits to Maryland EXCELS programs

Learn more about how a QAS can support you.

Technical Assistance Specialists

Technical Assistance Specialists (TAs) work in regional Child Care Resource Centers throughout Maryland and support providers in Maryland EXCELS by:

  • Offering onsite consultation and group sessions focused on specific areas of program improvement (like room arrangement)
  • Supporting programs in the accreditation process
  • Providing training opportunities to support The Maryland Child Care Credential Program, CDA, and licensing requirements

Learn more how a TA can support you.

24/7 Technical Support

You can email or call Technology Support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you have trouble logging on, receive error messages from the system, or forget your username and password, the Technology Support team is available to assist you. They focus their support on computer issues specifically.

Maryland EXCELS Tutorials

Tutorials are available for programs and providers participating in Maryland EXCELS and/or Maryland Accreditation. These tutorials provide easy to follow, step-by-step instructions to assist with common actions and features in both systems.

Visit Tutorials on the Maryland EXCELS website to access these helpful guides.