Stars Defined

Learn more about what makes each Parent Aware Star Rating different.

Families use Parent Aware Star Ratings to find programs using research-based best practices that prepare children for school and life.

When a program participates in the Parent Aware Star Rating process, they are letting their stars shine. They volunteer for extra training and professional development to go above and beyond basic health and safety licensing requirements.

Participating programs can earn a One-, Two-, Three-, or Four-Star Rating. Parent Aware Ratings are based on demonstrated use of research-based practices that prepare children for school and life. Each Rating level builds on the previous one, helping families easily identify which practices the program is using.

Star-Ratings-chart

Visit Minnesota’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Data system (MN ECLDS) website for an interactive map of Rated programs. More information about Parent Aware participation is available in the Fast Facts section of Develop.

Several Parent Aware reports and updates are also available in the Child Care and Early Education Reports section of the Minnesota Department of Human services website.

One-Star Rating

These programs have demonstrated these best practices:

  • Uses consistent routines to support children
  • Talks with children and families to better understand interests and culture
  • Shares important community resources with families
  • Learns about each individual child by observing and taking notes
  • Commits to and maintains professional ethics in the early learning field

Two-Star Rating

These programs have demonstrated all One-Star practices, AND:

  • Evaluates learning activities, materials, classroom layout, and health-related practices to set goals for growth
  • Plans school-readiness activities for children
  • Guides families through their children’s transition to kindergarten
  • Shares information with families in ways that meet their unique needs
  • Plans for continued learning and professional growth

Three-Star Rating

These programs have demonstrated all One- and Two-Star practices, AND:

  • Uses a curriculum aligned with Minnesota’s early learning standards
  • Teaches in a way that is organized, challenging and warm
  • Helps children transition between activities and stay engaged
  • Uses approved tools to track children’s development
  • Commits to ongoing quality improvement by using some of these best practices:
    • Responds to unique cultural customs and needs of children and families
    • Offers activities that encourage family participation and help children transition to kindergarten
    • Gives families opportunities to provide feedback about the program
    • Shares child development updates with families to set goals together
    • Makes accommodations for children with special needs and their families
    • Has highly-qualified and trained leadership staff, teachers, and providers
    • Creates a program-wide professional development plan
    • Encourages healthy living through nutrition and physical activity, always evaluating to set goals for growth

Four-Star Rating

These programs have demonstrated all One-, Two-, and Three-Star practices, AND commits to ongoing quality improvement by using most of these best practices:

  • Responds to unique cultural customs and needs of children and families
  • Offers activities that encourage family participation and help children transition to kindergarten
  • Gives families opportunities to provide feedback about the program
  • Shares child development updates with families to set goals together
  • Makes accommodations for children with special needs and their families
  • Has highly-qualified and trained leadership staff, teachers, and providers
  • Creates a program-wide professional development plan
  • Encourages healthy living through nutrition and physical activity, always evaluating to set goals for growth

You may also see these labels in your search results:

Rating in Process
Program has volunteered and is currently in the Rating process.

Not Eligible for Rating
Program is not eligible for Rating.

Not Allowed to Participate: Licensing Sanction
Program is not allowed to participate in the Rating process because it has received a sanction against its child care license. For more information, see Health & Safety in Licensed Child Care Programs.

Has Not Volunteered
This means a provider or program:

  • Has not volunteered to participate in Parent Aware OR
  • Applied for a Parent Aware Star Rating, but did not achieve one OR
  • Had a Rating that expired

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