To participate in Parent Aware, child care and early education programs must meet basic child safety and health standards by being licensed for child care in the state of Minnesota, or by a tribal government, or by having their basic child safety and health standards monitored by another approved organization, such as Head Start, public school-based programs, school districts, or charter school boards.
Child care centers and family child care programs licensed with the Minnesota Department of Human Services must not have licensing sanctions, including conditional license; temporary immediate suspension; suspension; revocation; or a maltreatment determination. Programs must be actively providing care to at least one child ranging in age from birth to kindergarten entry.
Determine your eligibility, then visit the Choose Your Path page to learn more.
Licensed Family Child Care and Child Care Centers
Licensed family child care and center-based programs can take the Full-Rating Pathway to receive a One-, Two-, Three- or Four-Star Rating. Programs may also choose to participate in Building Quality, which offers additional time and coaching to programs to learn and implement kindergarten readiness best practices before submitting documentation for their Rating.
Licensed Accredited Child Care
Licensed accredited family child care providers and licensed accredited child care centers can take the Accelerated Pathway. With a current accreditation, these programs follow a streamlined process to earn a Four-Star Parent Aware Rating. The requirements of child care accreditation match or exceed the requirements of the Full-Rating Pathway.
Public School Prekindergarten
Prekindergarten and preschool programs provided through public schools that meet MN statues 124D.15 are eligible for the Accelerated Pathway. Public schools may offer many options for children and families, such as Family Literacy, extended day, and the School Readiness program. All of these programs must meet the School Readiness program requirements and be supervised by a licensed early childhood teacher and/or parent educator to be eligible for a Four-Star Parent Aware Rating. Ratings are valid for two years. Programs new to Parent Aware can apply for a Four-Star Rating at any time in the Accelerated Pathway.
School districts and charter schools who receive voluntary prekindergartne (VPK) funding are eligible to receive a Four-Star Rating through the Automatic Pathway. The application process for a Rating through the Automatic Pathway is embedded in the annual VPK application process. Oversight and guidance are provided by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in accordance with MN Statute 124D.151.
Charter schools must go through the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) early childhood program recognition process before applying for a Parent Aware Rating. Once a charter school has received their recognition notification from MDE, they may apply for a Rating through the Accelerated Pathway. Read more about charter school recognition.
Head Start and Early Head Start
Head Start and Early Head Start center-based programs and their partners may apply for a Rating through the Automatic Pathway.