The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has hired Child Trends to complete an independent evaluation of Parent Aware—Minnesota’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for child care and early learning programs—using an equity lens. The evaluation is required by law, and the 2021 Minnesota State Legislative Session determined that the federal American Rescue Plan Act would fund this evaluation.
The goal of the evaluation is to understand how well Parent Aware supports positive outcomes for Minnesota’s children, families, and early care and education workforce. The evaluation, which will take 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 will take place from March 2022 to July 2024, and will include the following research activities:
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 will ask 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 email@example.com.
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