Parents’ Perceptions of the Parent Aware Website and Search Tool
Parent Aware is Minnesota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Parent Aware aims to help child care and early education programs improve their caregiving and teaching practices, and helps families find high-quality programs by searching programs’ Ratings at ParentAware.org. Parent Aware is unique nationally in the investments it has made in its website and the overall marketing of the child care search tool, initially through private funding and now through funding from the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant.
Minnesota invested in the Parent Aware website to make it easier for parents to access information about early care and education programs in one place. ParentAware.org is a website where families can search for Rated programs, licensed programs, Head Start, and Prekindergarten programs, as well as review programs’ health and safety records all on one site. Additionally, Parent Aware markets directly to families using radio and television ads, and supports Rated programs in marketing and advertising their Rating to families.
Families have been able to conduct online searches for Parent Aware Rated Programs since 2008. In 2014, the Parent Aware website underwent a major redesign, and has been updated and refined every year since then. The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant in 2014 included a requirement that states implement a consumer education website. Minnesota already met many aspects of this requirement and continues to make improvements to facilitate the search process and use of the site.