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Finding Top-Quality Child Care Gets Easier in Minnesota

PHOTO: The number of Minnesota child-care providers participating in the Parent Aware voluntary rating system is now at about 1,900 and continues to grow. Photo credit: U.S. Army/Flickr.
PHOTO: The number of Minnesota child-care providers participating in the Parent Aware voluntary rating system is now at about 1,900 and continues to grow. Photo credit: U.S. Army/Flickr.
April 8, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The number of Minnesota child-care providers helping to raise the bar on quality continues to grow, but a new study also finds there is plenty of room for more to get on board.

Parent Aware is a voluntary program that rates providers on a scale of one to four stars, allowing families to easily identify those who are implementing practices that have been shown to best prepare children for school and life.

"We've got a significant increase of programs that are rated - about 1,900 of our 12,000 programs total," said Lucinda Jesson, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, "but that also tells you we have a ways to go."

Parent Aware began its statewide rollout in 2012 and it's anticipated that nearly 2,500 programs will be rated by the end of this year.

The report also found that nearly one-third of Minnesota kids from birth to age 5 whose families receive child-care assistance were enrolled in three- or four-star-rated programs. Jesson said that's vital considering the large income and racial gaps in the state in terms of educational achievement.

"I think we've realized in Minnesota that quality early-childhood education is important for everyone," she said, "but it is especially important for kids that are living in poverty, where quality child care can really be a ladder to a better life."

Among those who have collaborated with the state on the Parent Aware program is Child Care Aware of Minnesota. The group has helped more than 600,000 parents looking for child care over the past 25 years.

The report is online at edocs.dhs.state.mn.us. Find a Parent Aware-related provider at childcareawaremn.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN