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Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson visited Amanda Rupar’s Family Child Care in Sartell, Minn., today to celebrate recent investments in early childhood education and progress in increasing the number of Parent Aware-rated programs.
Parent Aware is a rating system to help parents find high-quality child care and early education programs to prepare their children for kindergarten. Amanda Rupar’s Family Child Care recently received a four-star rating, the highest possible, as the department works to make Parent Aware available statewide. More than 1,000 quality early education programs have now been rated.
“Today, nearly half of all Minnesota’s 5-year-olds arrive at kindergarten not fully prepared to start school. Too many will never catch up,” said Jesson. “By investing in quality early education, and giving parents the information they need, more Minnesota children will get a great start in life.”
Parent Aware ratings are 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 22 counties and on seven reservations. Parent Aware will expand to 23 new counties and one reservation next year, and reach statewide in 2015.
Investments by Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature are also helping increase access to high-quality care. Beginning March 2014, the department will use part of a $19.4 million investment to incentivize providers to achieve high-quality Parent Aware ratings by paying higher Child Care Assistance Program rates to those with three- or four-star ratings. The budget invests another $40 million in scholarships, administered by the Minnesota Department of Education, to help 8,000 children from families with low incomes enroll in child care and early learning programs participating in Parent Aware.
Providers interested in joining Parent Aware can call 1-888-291-9811 or visit ParentAwareRatings.org.
Editor’s note: Photos from the visit to Amanda Rupar’s Family Child Care are available by request.