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Child care providers now have a greater incentive to improve the quality of care for children with high needs, thanks to a $19.4 million state investment proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton and approved by the Minnesota Legislature last session. With this change, child care providers who receive high ratings from Parent Aware, the state’s voluntary child care rating system, are eligible for higher Child Care Assistance Program reimbursement rates.
Parent Aware’s star rating system helps parents find high quality child care and early education programs to prepare their children for kindergarten. Beginning March 3, providers with three- and four-star Parent Aware ratings began receiving rate increases of up to 15 percent and 20 percent, respectively, for children in the Child Care Assistance Program.
To highlight this new effort to increase access to quality early education for Minnesota children with high needs, Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Jesson visited today Y Early Learning Day Care in St. Paul’s Thomas-Dale neighborhood.
“Children from families with low incomes are less likely to be fully prepared for kindergarten than their more advantaged peers,” Jesson said. “With increased access to quality child care, more children will arrive for kindergarten ready to learn, and more parents will be able to focus on employment knowing that their children are in safe, enriching environments.”
More than 1,300 early education programs are now rated by Parent Aware. Participation is currently available to accredited child care, Head Start and school-based pre-kindergarten programs statewide, as well as licensed family child care programs and child care centers in 45 counties and on eight reservations.
“Teaching is my passion,” said Yeur Xiong, who operates Y Early Learning Day Care, a four-star rated Parent Aware program registered for the Child Care Assistance Program. “I believe early education gives children the tools they need to be successful, and I think all children should have an opportunity to succeed.”
The department will expand Parent Aware to all providers statewide in 2015. Providers interested in joining Parent Aware can call 1-888-291-9811 or visit ParentAwareRatings.org.
Editor’s note: Photos from the visit to Y Early Learning Day Care are available by request.