The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has contracted with Child Trends to independently evaluate Parent Aware—Minnesota’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for early care and education programs—using an equity lens. This evaluation is required by law and funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act, as determined by the 2021 Minnesota State Legislative Session.
The goal of the evaluation is to understand the degree to which Parent Aware supports positive outcomes for Minnesota’s children, families, and early care and education workforce. The evaluation, which takes place from March 2022 to July 2024, will explore these topics:
More detailed information about the various activities under this evaluation and the timeline for each activity can be found under Evaluation Activities and Timeline (below).
To share progress on the evaluation, our team will post updates on this webpage at least twice per year.
Project Update – March 2023
An important aspect of the Parent Aware Evaluation is to examine the degree to which Parent Aware Ratings capture a program’s quality, as well as the extent to which young children’s growth and learning over time are associated with Ratings. In Fall 2022, the Child Trends team launched this component of the evaluation and began recruiting child care programs and families to participate. However, many programs we contacted were unable to participate; most reported that they did not have time, that they faced ongoing challenges with staffing or staff turnover, or a host of other reasons related to the pandemic’s lingering effects on the child care sector.
Nevertheless, the Child Trends research team is moving forward with the study among the programs that agreed to participate. Because the work is at a much smaller scale, we have a more limited ability to address the originally proposed research questions. The team has been working closely with the Minnesota Department of Human Services to consider different activities for this evaluation using funds originally intended to support the activities related to program quality and children’s development.
The Child Trends team is still finalizing plans for the next year of the evaluation and will engage key partners—including the evaluation’s State and Community Advisory Committees, advocates, and others—to receive feedback on the newly proposed activities. Once our plans are finalized, we will post additional updates to this webpage and update the evaluation activities and timeline below to reflect the new activities. Stay tuned for more updates soon!
The evaluation takes place from March 2022 to July 2024 and includes the following research activities.
To support revisions and improvements to the Standards and Indicators that Parent Aware uses to define child care quality, our team is conducting:
To explore the child care landscape in Minnesota and understand the factors that support or create barriers to programs participating in Parent Aware, our team is conducting:
To assess quality and children’s development in Rated programs and determine the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Minnesota’s children, families, and child care providers, our team is conducting the following evaluation activities:*
*Note that these activities have been modified from those originally planned. These changes result from feedback from child care programs regarding their limited capacity to participate in an evaluation as a result of the heightened stressors and barriers they continue to face in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. See the Project Update posted March 2023 for more information.
The project has flexibility for Child Trends to propose additional activities to examine quality improvement or the implications of any new legislation that may inform the state or other Parent Aware stakeholders.
A detailed overview of all evaluation activities, findings, and implications for future improvements to Parent Aware will be included in a final report submitted to DHS in July 2024. The final report will be made publicly available, and the project team will post a link to this page once it is released.
A timeline for each component of the evaluation is provided below.
Throughout the project, the Child Trends team asks various stakeholders and members of the community to provide feedback on the evaluation through two committees:
If you have questions about the Parent Aware Evaluation, please contact Lyn Rhodes, the DHS Project Manager for the evaluation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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