Standards and Indicators FAQs

Parent Aware introduced new Standards and Indicators for participating child care providers, effective July 1, 2017. Here’s a list of frequent questions we’ve received about the updates. If you have any additional questions, contact your Quality Coach. If you haven’t been assigned a Quality Coach, please contact your local recruiter to get started.

You can download the full list of the Standards and Indicators from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) website.

What are the Parent Aware Standards and Indicators?

  • Standards and Indicators are the quality measures we use to award Star Ratings.
  • Standards describe key features that reflect kindergarten readiness best practices. They are based on years of research that has shown these practices make a positive difference for children.
  • Indicators are the specific activities we can observe or measure during the Rating process to determine whether a Standard has been met.
  • Standards and Indicators are organized into five broad Categories of quality:
    • Teaching and relationships with children
    • Relationships with families
    • Assessment and planning for each individual child
    • Professionalism
    • Health and well-being


Why were the Standards and Indicators updated?

  • We tested the Parent Aware Standards and Indicators. Then we made changes based on the things we learned, to help children do better.
  • Our goal is to make sure the Rating process is fair, accurate and meaningful to the programs that participate and reflects the latest best practices.


What was the Indicator review process?

  • It was an intense 18-month process of reviewing the Parent Aware Standards and Indicators and considering updates – using ideas and feedback from a diverse group of child care and early education content experts, directors, providers, teachers, and families. We heard from nearly 900 individuals and received over 7,000 pieces of feedback. This feedback was invaluable as we worked on this update.
  • It was also important to get feedback about the Rating process directly from the people who are most impacted by these policies—child care providers and programs. With funding support from the Department of Human Services, Child Care Aware of Minnesota contracted with The Improve Group to conduct focus groups with child care providers in Minnesota to ensure that updates to the Quality Documentation Portfolio (QDP) aligned with providers’ reality. This approach follows Parent Aware principles—to engage experts, listen to the community, and make critical changes to help early care and education programs adopt best practices and serve children of diverse backgrounds. The feedback collected was used to identify challenges and seek clarity when updating the QDP. The new QDP went into effect July 1, 2017. You can download and read the Improve Group’s Executive Summary for the focus group study.


So, what Standards and Indicators changed?

  • We aligned Parent Aware requirements to the Minnesota Knowledge and Competency Framework (KCF), including the names of the Parent Aware Categories.
    • The KCF is a set of standards that outlines what early childhood professionals need to know and what they need to do when delivering quality care.
    • Review the Knowledge and Competency Framework document for more KCF information and resources.
  • We’ve added a new Category for programs taking the Full-Rating Pathway – Relationships with Families – that encourages more conversations, information sharing, and involvement with families.
  • We’ve also added new Indicators in the other Categories, including:
    • Offering kindergarten transition activities for children and guidance for families
    • Using child assessment to inform instruction
    • Encouraging lead teachers and providers to become licensed teachers, or get their four-year degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development
    • Assessing cultural responsiveness and setting goals
    • Assessing nutrition and physical activity and setting goals
    • Understanding and modeling ethical conduct


Did training requirements change?

  • Yes, but this is great news for participants:
    • ALL training approved by Achieve, the Minnesota Center for Professional Development (MNCPD), in the required KCF Content Areas will count for Parent Aware.
    • Instead of requiring specific trainings, you are only required to take trainings in a specific KCF content area based on your Goal Rating, giving you more control and variety when making your training choices. You can already search for trainings by KCF Content Area on the Develop website.
    • The new Parent Aware training requirements also better align with other certifications and accreditations, making it easier for providers to participate in multiple professional development programs.
  • REMINDER: Child Care Aware of Minnesota is offering many low-cost trainings. Topics include infant and toddler, curriculum, and assessment. You must have a Develop account to register.


Are there any other changes?

  • YES, we’ve simplified the Rating process for some specific program types:
    • Centers with an active Three- or Four-Star Rating may be eligible for an Expedited Rating process when opening new locations.
    • Head Start, Early Head Start center-based programs, and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programs are eligible for the Automatic Rating.


What should I do to prepare for a Rating?

  • Learn about the KCF. Visit the Child Care Aware website for a KCF overview. Anytime Learning also offers an on-demand KCF online training, which is FREE to take for a limited time.
  • Get on Develop. Every Lead Teacher, Lead Provider, Director, and Education Coordinator must have a current Individual Membership in Develop and your program’s Organization Account must be registered in Develop to participate in Parent Aware. It’s also needed to register for free trainings. Why wait? Register on Develop today!
  • Take Appropriate Trainings. Now that you know the requirements for Rating, make sure you connect with a Professional Development Advisor and participate in approved trainings. You can go on to the Develop website and search for trainings based on KCF content areas. A Professional Development Advisor can assist you and confirm which trainings will count for your Star Level goal.
  • Use Our Support. There are several people you can work with to navigate the new requirements. Recruiters, Coaches, and Professional Development Advisors are all passionate about helping you succeed.

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