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Resource Details

Initiative Name: 

Parent Aware, Minnesota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System




Child Care, Quality Improvement, Accountability & Evaluation, Quality Rating Systems

Source Of Information: 

ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates



Year Started: 



Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announced on August 10, 2011 that Parent Aware, the state’s pilot Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), would continue under current statutory authority. The program was set to expire because the legislature did not include funding for it in the FY2011 budget. Parent Aware is a four-star voluntary QRIS for early care and education programs including licensed family child care programs, child care centers, Head Start/Early Head Start, and School Readiness programs. It began in August, 2007 and has primarily been funded with private money raised by the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation. In July 2008, it was piloted in four Minnesota communities with approximately 400 early care and education programs, serving 22,000 children, participating. Parent Aware Ratings are available for child care providers/early educators in Anoka, Becker, Blue Earth, Cass, Chippewa, Clearwater, Dakota, Hennepin, Itasca, Mahnomen, Meeker, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Pine, Polk, Ramsey, Scott, Stearns, St. Louis, Wadena, and Watonwan counties and the White Earth Reservation. By 2015, Parent Aware will be available to parents and child care programs statewide.

Parent Aware ratings are based on the number of points programs are awarded in four categories: family partnerships; teaching materials and strategies; tracking learning; and teacher training and education. Points are earned for meeting requirements such as: collecting and using feedback from parents; using an approved curriculum for infants/toddlers and preschool-age children; using approved and research-based child assessment tools; and employing highly qualified staff. Programs submit documentation and undergo an on-site observation, during which the CLASS (for pre-school classrooms only), ECERS-R, FCCERS-R and ITERS-R are used, to receive a rating. Accredited child care programs, School Readiness programs, and Head Start programs are automatically given a 4-star rating if they demonstrate compliance with licensing or the applicable state/federal program performance standards.

Programs going through the full rating process participate in an orientation when they enroll. They are also assigned a Provider Resource Specialist to help them complete the documentation and prepare a quality improvement plan. Once they are rated, programs are eligible for a quality improvement grant to help them achieve the goals outlined in their quality improvement plan. A “Getting Ready Checklist” was developed to help familiarize programs with the Parent Aware rating criteria and provide suggestions for meeting them. Local resource and referral agencies also provide technical assistance to participating programs.

In December 2011, a final evaluation report of Parent Aware conducted by the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation found several positive outcomes. The final evaluation found that 60% of centers and 70% of family child care providers improved their rating by at least one star from their initial rating to their second rating, and that children in Parent Aware-rated programs showed significant gains in several measures, such as expressive and receptive vocabulary, early literacy skills, math skills, social competence and persistence.

For additional information visit the Parent Aware website The evaluation report can be downloaded at

Updated October 2013.


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