ParentAware.org helps parents prepare children for kindergarten

Minnesota Department of Human Services

It’s now easier for parents to find child care and early education programs that will help their young children get ready for kindergarten, thanks to a beefed up online search tool.

The website ParentAware.org now connects parents to an expanded database of more than 12,000 programs, thanks to cooperation between the Department of Human Services, Department of Education, PASR, Child Care Aware and The Nerdery. Search results feature programs with Parent Aware ratings, helping families easily identify those that are using research-based best practices in school readiness.

While more Minnesota children are prepared for kindergarten than ever before, there are still too many who are not ready. Quality care and education can help close the gap. Using a one- to four-star system, Parent Aware ratings help parents find care with effective curriculums and stimulating environments. Currently, more than 1,600 child care and early education programs have voluntarily become rated and have adopted, or strengthened, quality education practices.

Parent Aware is beneficial to children, parents, providers and Minnesota, said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. With this improved search tool, parents will have more information about programs at their fingertips. That translates into choosing the early education that best meets their and their children’s needs. And that will help Minnesota in the future.

The upgraded online search tool, located at ParentAware.org, enables parents to search for programs by location, schedule, education quality and types of care. In addition to the expanded database of programs, improvements include a more user-friendly search function, improved information resources, and a direct connection to the Is Your Child Ready quiz, where parents can assess whether their 1- to 5-year-old is on track for success in kindergarten.

Parents often do exhaustive searches for higher education, but they sometimes spend much less time searching for pre-kindergarten education,” said Ericca Maas, executive director of Parent Aware for School Readiness which donated approximately $200,000 to upgrading the website tool. “Because we now are learning that a significant amount of brain development happens before age 5, searching for high quality child care is extremely important.”

 

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