Parent Aware helps families find the quality care and education their children need to succeed in school and life. The educational experiences children have during the first five years of life will shape the adults they become, making it especially important for all children to have access to quality care and education.
Parent Aware offers free tools and resources to help families find quality child care and early education programs in their communities. It also supports child care and early education programs in improving their program’s quality and earning a Parent Aware Star Rating.
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Parent Aware Star Ratings
The Parent Aware One-to-Four-Star Ratings combine years of early childhood development research to provide an objective assessment of quality that improves education outcomes for children. The Ratings measure if and how child care and early learning professionals are using best practices. Learn more about Star Ratings on Parent Aware’s website.
Starting December 11, 2023, licensed child care programs that have never been Rated, and are in good standing with licensing regulations of the state or their Tribe, will be eligible for a bonus of $500 if they sign up to join Parent Aware. Bonuses are available on a first come, first served basis while funds last. Programs are encouraged to begin working toward earning a Parent Aware Rating as early as possible to be eligible for a bonus. Learn more about Parent Aware Ratings here.
This new incentive to join Parent Aware is happening to increase access to Early Learning Scholarships, to coincide with an increase in Early Learning Scholarships funding through the Minnesota Department of Education in early 2024. Learn more about Early Learning Scholarships here.
This bonus program is part of a larger set of activities the Department of Human Services is carrying out, including:
Starting July 1, 2026, all licensed child care providers in good standing with the state or their Tribe will automatically receive a One-Star Parent Aware Rating (Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.142, subdivision 2), unless they are already Rated or choose to opt out.
In early 2024, child care programs that are not currently Rated, and are in good standing with licensing regulations of the state or their Tribe, will be eligible to commit to accepting a One-Star Rating when it is available starting July 1, 2026. This will allow child care providers to be eligible for Early Learning Scholarships right away.
The state’s goal for these activities is to make sure families have access to quality, affordable child care, and that children receive the best care possible. For more information about these changes, please go to the FAQ page.
As part of the Minnesota Department of Human Services' ongoing efforts to promote equity and ensure children receive the best care, we are working with key partners to redesign the program. The Parent Aware Redesign includes multiple projects that center best practices and racial, cultural, linguistic, ability and geographic equity. This multi-year effort will be informed by significant community engagement.
Parent Aware is Minnesota’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). Parent Aware is led by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Development Services (DHS), in coordination with the Minnesota Departments of Education and Health. Local Child Care Aware agencies, comprising Minnesota’s child care resource and referral system, provide support for Parent Aware in all counties and Tribes in Minnesota. Parent Aware offers tools and resources to help families find quality child care and early education, help programs improve their practices, and help children benefit from care and education that will prepare them for school and life. The state is directed to provide a quality rating and improvement system under Sec. 124D.142 MN Statutes.