Early Childhood Professionals

A brighter future.

Mary opened her family child care business five years ago in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. At the time, she was not familiar with Parent Aware, Minnesota’s new quality rating and improvement system, but she was eager to learn how to have more impact in the lives of children and their families.

It had been many years since Mary had received any formal education herself.


For Early Childhood Professionals

Think of the possibilities.

Your job is important. Every interaction you have with children helps shape the person they'll grow up to be. Will they be ready for school?  Will they be equipped with the tools for success in life?  You have the opportunity for tremendous impact. And that's why we're here to help.

Think Small supports excellence in early learning for all types of professionals--providers, parent educators, and teachers. By offering classes, coaching, and financial support, we can help you become the best professional you can be. So you can help kids become the best people they can be.

When you're thinking of the possibilities, Think Small.





Parent Aware is the statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for Minnesota. Nearly every state in the country now has a QRIS. 

  • Parent Aware Ratings are focused on getting children ready to succeed in kindergarten and in life!
  • When you volunteer to participate, you go beyond basic health and safety requirements to demonstrate the best practices in early education.
  • The next Parent Aware Cohort starts July 1, 2016.
  • Application and Participation Agreement forms are due in June. 

?Learn more about Parent Aware here.

Program Benefits

  • Have your quality recognized
  • FREE coaching and assistance
  • Increased access to Scholarships
  • Ongoing marketing support
  • Higher Child Care Assistance rates
  • Join the community of Rated programs

How to Earn a Star Rating

  • Attend an Orientation Session and apply for participation in a January or July cohort.
  • Join Develop and earn your step on the Career Lattice.
  • Review your program strengths and set a Star Level goal with your Quality coach.
  • Work with your Coach to gather program documentation.
  • Submit your Quality Documentation Portfolio.
  • Receive your Star Rating!  

Contact Jennifer Barshack, Parent Aware Recruiter for the Metro District, with questions at jbarshack@thinksmall.org or at 651.233.2297. 

Free Parent Aware Information Sessions

See Scheduled Sessions and for Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott, Washington and other counties here. Or print a PDF, here.

Parent Aware Information Sessions for Hennepin & Ramsey Counties

Registration is REQUIRED to attend. 

Please register with Kia Vang, Quality Supports Program Assistant at kvang@thinksmall.org or 651.523.7283 or register online below. 


Wednesday, April 27th, 11am–noon - Register online here

Think Small West

2021 East Hennepin Avenue, Suite 250, Minneapolis, MN 55413


Thursday, April 28, 6:30–8:30pm - Register online here

Special Event for Family Child Care Providers 

Lakeshore® Learning Store

1721 Beam Ave, Suite A, Maplewood, MN 55109 


Watch for additional information sessions for Hennepin & Ramsey counties to be scheduled for the July 2016 Cohort, or contact Jennifer Barshack to apply today. 


Help our Parent Aware Recruitment Efforts

If you had a positive experience with Parent Aware and would like to help us recruit other providers by talking at information sessions, or getting involved in other efforts, please let your Quality Coach know. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota has provided funding for Metro Area Family Child Care providers participating in Parent Aware to receive a $25 Target gift care for referrals that we receive by June 1st.  No limit on the number of referrals. Talk to your Quality Coach or contact Jennifer Barshack, Recruiter at 651.233.2297 or jbarshack@thinksmall.org for details!


Learn More about Parent Aware, watch a video where Providers Speak about their experiences with Parent Aware.