Choose Your Path

We offer four different Pathways for programs to earn a Rating. There is no cost to apply.

Full-Rating Pathway

The Full-Rating Pathway is available to all licensed family child care and child care centers, including tribally licensed programs, that want to earn a One-, Two-, Three- or Four-Star Rating. Programs must be in good standing with state or county licensing, or with a tribal government to participate. Programs can apply for Parent Aware up to six months before starting a Full-Rating Cohort. Cohorts are six months long and start on January 1 or July 1 each year.

Programs can also choose to receive 20-60 hours of free Quality Coaching by participating in the Building Quality track for six to 12 months to learn and implement kindergarten readiness best practices before joining a Full-Rating Cohort. Parent Aware Grants are available to programs that participate in Building Quality and to programs that earn a Rating.

Find your local contact to apply.


Accelerated Pathway

The Accelerated Pathway is a streamlined process to earn a Four–Star Rating, and is available to licensed accredited child care centers, licensed accredited family child care programs, public school-based prekindergarten programs meeting School Readiness statute or voluntary prekindergarten statute and their partners, and license-exempt charter school early learning programs officially recognized by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).

These programs already meet or exceed most of the best practices required for a Rating through national accreditation requirements, state law, or School Readiness requirements (Minnesota Statutes 124D.15), so they are able to move through the Rating process more quickly.

Accredited Child Care: Contact Nikki Lepowsky

Public School Prekindergarten: Contact MDE Early Learning


Automatic Pathway

The Automatic Pathway is available to center-based Early Head Start and Head Start programs and their partners, and voluntary prekindergarten programs to receive a Four-Star Rating. The application for a Rating through the Automatic Pathway is embedded in the annual Head Start and Early Head Start application process and the annual voluntary prekindergarten application process.

These programs are rigorously monitored and must meet federal regulations on Head Start Performance Standards or state law that match or exceed the practices required for a Parent Aware Rating. Oversight and guidance is provided by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in accordance with MN Statutes 124D.151.

Contact MDE Early Learning


Expedited Pathway

The Expedited Pathway is for owners who oversee multi-site centers with Three- or Four-Star Ratings and are expanding to offer child care in additional locations. Expedited Pathway Ratings are available to licensed child care centers that have an active license, have been open less than six months, and meet a number of other eligibility requirements.

Eligible programs that apply will receive a Three- or Four-Star Parent Aware Rating that is valid for two years as long as they meet basic requirements and two Indicators, as described in the Expedited Pathway Quality Documentation Portfolio Parent Aware Rating Guide within six months of receiving the Expedited Pathway Rating.

Contact Nikki Lepowsky

Get Started

Recruiters are here to answer your questions and start you on the journey to a Rating.

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