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      New Rankings Help Families Choose Quality Child Care

      Posted on April 03, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson finger paints with children at Amanda Rupar’s Family Child Care in Sartell, Minn
      Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson finger paints with children at Amanda Rupar’s Family Child Care in Sartell, Minn., to highlight growing participation in the Parent Aware quality rating system and recent investments in early childhood education
      For Minnesota’s children, school begins in Kindergarten, but learning starts long before that. According to cognitive scientists, the first five years of brain development can make or break future learning outcomes. Parents play a vital role in stimulating their children’s minds, but when they leave for work, this responsibility also falls on daycare providers.

      Last year, Governor Dayton and the legislature worked together to invest in high-quality early learning opportunities. One of these newly implemented initiatives is Parent Aware, a program designed to rate different pre-k educational services. Based on a four star rating system, the program relies on voluntary evaluations of different day-care providers, and, through educational workshops, equips them with information on how to create a safe and stimulating day care environment. When looking for place to send their kids parents can simply go to the Parent Aware Website, and look up ratings.

      The minimum standard for a 1 star ratting requires ongoing documentation of a child’s learning progress, while achievement of a four star rating takes much more: including sensitivity to cultural differences among children, evidence that lesson plans are tailored to the learning needs of individual students, and training for pre-k care for students with disabilities.

      Minnesota’s Parent Aware rating system will help parents assess their options for childcare, but also encourage providers to become up to date on the latest techniques for encouraging early cognitive development.

      The process of accreditation requires that providers frequently participate in workshops to learn about the latest research in early childhood education. This ensures that they remain up to date about the best approaches to early learning, and can continually revise their curriculum.

      Governor Dayton and the legislature also hope to make an impact in underserved communities. All providers who become accredited with a 3 or 4 star rating will be eligible for higher Childcare Assistance program reimbursement rates, when they provide care for eligible children.

      These grants, and the Parent Aware program as a whole, will help ensure that all children in Minnesota will be ready for Kindergarten, and have a chance to succeed.