Addressing Racial Inequities

Understanding barriers and finding solutions to participation in Parent Aware by racially, ethnically, culturally and geographically diverse providers.

In 2021, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) engaged in efforts to better understand and address inequities within Parent Aware. As part of this effort, DHS collaborated with Parent Aware partners through the Parent Aware Racial Equity Action Plan (PAREAP) workgroup and completed a child care provider engagement initiative.

Throughout 2022, DHS staff have advanced the recommendations from these efforts in numerous ways, including the short- and long-term strategies identified in the Parent Aware Equity Report to the Minnesota Legislature. DHS staff began implementing these strategies by:

  • Creating and launching a new Parent Aware organizational structure for better oversight and implementation;
  • Contracting with Rainbow Research to design and to launch a new Parent Aware Advisory Committee in 2023;
  • Contributing to a cross-agency work group to address suspension and expulsion challenges in early childhood settings; and
  • Launching a formal evaluation of Parent Aware through a contract with Child Trends.

In addition, in October of 2022, DHS engaged Portage Partners Consulting (PPC) to help support the implementation of additional racial equity strategies. In December 2022, PPC shared a survey with Parent Aware partners to help prioritize these strategies.

Through that survey, our partners have identified these initiatives as our 2023 racial equity priorities for Parent Aware:

  1. Racial bias and discrimination incident guidelines
  2. Forms and Develop Data System
  3. Rating pathways and cohorts
  4. Coaching and advising
  5. Standards and indicators revision preparation

The goal of the partnership with PPC is to see concrete implementation progress by the end of 2023.

In the coming year, we will share updates on DHS efforts to address inequities in Parent Aware every two to three months, including ways you can get involved. If you have questions about this process, please contact Jennifer Barshack at

To stay up to date on Parent Aware racial equity work, please subscribe to the Parent Aware Racial Equity email list.

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