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 January 1, 2017.
  • Apply online by December 31, 2016, see below for details.

Learn more about Parent Aware here.

Program Benefits

  • Have your quality recognized
  • FREE coaching and assistance
  • Increased access to scholarships for families
  • Ongoing marketing support
  • Higher reimbursement 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. 

Building Quality Support Funds Available

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has received one time funds in the state budget that will allow the temporary continuation of the Parent Aware Quality Improvement funds. Funds are available for non-accredited, licensed child care programs in Minnesota that volunteer to enroll in the full rating pathway to receive a Parent Aware Rating. 
  • Programs enrolling in the January 2017 cohort and serving children with high needs will be eligible to receive $500 Quality Support funds for the Building Quality pathway.
  • $500 Quality Support funds can be spent on required professional development training, curricula, assessment tools, materials, toys or equipment tied to the provider’s program goals.

Join the January 2017 Cohort

  • To start in the January 2017 cohort of Parent Aware, a completed Parent Aware Application form and a Participation Agreement form must be signed, dated and received by December 15, 2016.
  • Providers with Develop accounts may apply online at www.developtoolmn.org through December 31, 2016.
  • Re-rating programs are also required to submit application forms or apply online and have the same deadlines.
  • **Join Parent Aware today and you may win a $100 gift card! One $100 VISA gift card will be awarded by Child Care Aware of Minnesota monthly through December 2016 to a licensed child care provider who has signed and submitted a Parent Aware Participation Agreement by December 31, 2016 for the January 2017 cohort. The sooner you sign up, the more opportunities you will have to win!

Metro Area Contacts

Anoka County & Washington County Providers
Contact Katy Chase
Assistant Director of Child Care Support Services & Parent Aware Quality Coach
Anoka County Community Action Program
Direct Phone: 763-783-4881
Email: kchase@accap.org

Carver County & Scott County Providers
Contact Marie Johnson
CAP Agency Child Care Aware of Minnesota
Office: 952-402-9824
Cell: 612-850-2615
Email: mjohnson@capagency.org

Dakota County Providers 
Contact Mischelle Ulrich
Child Care Aware Supervisor
360 Communities
Phone: 952.985.4045
Email: MUlrich@360communities.org

Hennepin County & Ramsey County Providers
Contact Kia Vang
Quality Support Program Assistant 
Office: 651.523.7283
Email: kvang@thinksmall.org

Questions? Contact the local office above, or your Quality Coach. 

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