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Choose Your Path

We offer four different ways for programs to earn a Rating. There is no cost to apply.

Full-Rating Pathway

The Full-Rating Pathway is available to all licensed family child care and center-based programs, including tribally licensed programs, wanting to earn a One-, Two-, Three- or Four-Star Rating. Programs must be in good standing with state or county licensing, or with a tribal government to participate. Programs can sign up for Parent Aware up to six months before starting a Full-Rating Cohort. Cohorts are six months long and start on January 1 or July 1 each year.

Programs can also choose to receive 20-60 hours of free Quality Coaching by participating in the Building Quality for six to 12 months to learn and implement kindergarten readiness best practices before joining a Full-Rating Cohort. Each option offers a different level of Quality Improvement Supports.

Find your local contact.


Accelerated Pathway

The Accelerated Pathway is a streamlined process to earn a Four–Star Rating, and is available to licensed accredited child care, public school prekindergarten programs, and license-exempt charter schools recognized by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).

These programs already meet or exceed most of the best practices required for a Rating, so they are able to move through the Rating process more quickly. Eligible programs can apply anytime.

Accredited Child Care: Contact Nikki Lepowsky

Public School Prekindergarten: Contact MDE Early Learning


Automatic Pathway

Head Start center-based programs and their partners, Early Head Start center-based programs and their partners, and voluntary prekindergarten programs are eligible to receive a Four-Star Rating through the Automatic Pathway. These programs are rigorously monitored on a regular basis and must meet federal regulations that match or exceed best practices required for a Parent Aware Rating.

School districts and charter schools that receive voluntary prekindergarten funding are eligible to earn a Four-Star Rating through the Automatic Pathway. The application for a Rating through the Automatic Pathway is embedded in the annual voluntary prekindergarten application process. Oversight and guidance is provided by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in accordance with MN Statute 124D.151.

Contact MDE Early Learning



Expedited Pathway

The Expedited Pathway is designed specifically for owners who oversee multi-site centers with Three- or Four-Star Ratings and are expanding to offer child care in additional locations. Expedited Ratings are available to licensed child care centers that:

  • Are newly opened and actively serving children. This means that the program’s license has been active for less than six months and is currently providing child care service to children.
  • Have a controlling individual that is legally responsible for multiple licensed child care centers with the same License Holder Entity Identification Number(s); at least one of these centers must be Three- or Four-Star Rated.
  • Employ a director with at least one year of verified experience in Develop, Minnesota’s Quality Improvement and Registry Tool, as a director, assistant director, or education coordinator of a programs or programs that were Three- or Four-Star Rated after January 1, 2012. This experience can be a combination of different roles and does not need to be a consecutive 12 months of experience.
  • Have a license in good standing. This means the program has no negative actions or maltreatment findings.
  • Ensure all lead teachers, directors, education coordinators have applied for an individual membership in Develop with accurate employment record.

Eligible programs that apply will receive a Three- or Four-Star Parent Aware Rating that is valid for two years as long as programs meet two indicators, as described in the Expedited Pathway Quality Documentation Portfolio within six months of receiving the Expedited Rating:

  • All lead teachers, directors, and education coordinators must have a current Individual Membership in Develop
  • Each lead teacher that was employed on the date of the application must have 50 hours of training within the past five years.
  • All eligible preschool classrooms at the time of application must receive a CLASS® observation conducted by the University of Minnesota Center for Early Education and Development and meet minimum scores in the Instructional Support Domain of the CLASS®. Coaching on CLASS® will be available to preschool teachers at no charge.

Contact Nikki Lepowsky

Get Started

Recruiters are here to answer your questions and start you on the journey to a Rating.

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