The website ParentAware.org has been expanded with a database parents can now search that includes more than 12,000 child-care and early-education programs. Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson says it also includes quality ratings for many providers.
"It's a voluntary program, so people don't have to participate," says Jesson. "But the participation really is a commitment to using evidence-based best practices to help make sure every child is ready for kindergarten."
ParentAware.org allows parents to search for programs by location, schedule, education quality and types of care.
Jesson says there's also a simple quiz about kindergarten readiness that parents can take called Is Your Child Ready.
"It doesn't answer all the questions," says Jesson, "but it's a way for parents to get a sense of 'Is my three-year-old or four-year-old on track?' We know 90 percent of brain development happens before a child is five. So I think that's a useful tool."
Among those who collaborated with the state on the upgraded Parent Aware website is Child Care Aware of Minnesota, which has helped more than 600,000 parents looking for child care over the past 25 years.