Children attending a Parent Aware rated program are making significant gains in the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten, according to a third party evaluation of the Minnesota programs.

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This evaluation solidifies that Parent Aware is working, and children are the main beneficiaries of this important work. It is crucial to continue measuring all early learning programs across the state by the same measurements, and making that information available to families. There are areas and ways to improve Parent Aware, and we must continue expanding this program to families across Minnesota. Parent Aware needs our full support to reach the kids who need help the most to get ready for kindergarten.

Parent Aware began in Minnesota in 2014, following a pilot project. Parent Aware is the first statewide Quality Rating Improvement System for early learning in Minnesota, ranking the quality of all programs on the same criteria and along the same scale, including Head Start, center based care, in home child care and public programs. That information is then made available through a star rating system, with four stars being the highest ranking possible.

Children in Parent Aware-rated programs made gains from fall to spring of their prekindergarten year on skills that are critical for their school readiness: math skills, language and literacy skills, social competence, persistence, and executive function. Gains in language and literacy and executive function were greater for children from low-income families than for children from higher-income families, though spring scores for low-income children were still equal to or lower than fall scores for higher income children.

The quality of an early learning program is the most important information for a family looking for care. It’s particularly important for children from low-income families, who face the steepest obstacles to success in school and life. A quality early learning program can help best prepare children from low-income families for kindergarten. Parent Aware helps families make that match.

Minnesota must continue investing in Parent Aware.  It’s the single best tool we have to improve the quality of early learning programs across Minnesota, benefiting thousands of children who need our help the most.