Posted at: 06/26/2013 5:48 PM
By: Brianna Long

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Parent Aware Rating Program Expanding

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Trying to find the right daycare and the best person to watch your children while you're at work, can be an overwhelming and sometimes scary process. But now, a growing state program is attempting to make the process much easier for parents. That program is called Parent Aware.

It's a state program that began as a pilot a number of years ago. It's now expanding to more and more areas of the state, including southeast Minnesota.

Jackie Harrington has been a licensed, in-home, daycare provider in Rochester for the past 14 years.

"I just love kids. I enjoy the opportunity to see them grow and develop and be a part of their journey in education and it's a great career choice," she says.

She's done a lot of training over the years. But recently, she took that to a new level. She began the process of getting a star-rating by Parent Aware, the program that benefits both providers and parents.

"For the provider's perspective, it's a pathway to quality to ensure school readiness," said Jackie.

"Its good for parents, because when parents are looking for care, there are very few objective ways that you can rate childcare," said Patrick Gannon, the Executive Director for Child Care Resource and Referral in Rochester.

"It gives them that peace of mind that they're finding care from a provider that has made the investment and to making sure that the children they care for, not only are loved and nurtured, but also that they're going to be school ready," added Jackie.

Basically, parents can go online, select their city or county, and see if there are any Parent Aware-rated providers in the area. The ratings are based on stars. One, two, three, or four. But those in charge of the program say, any rating is good.

"When you're a one-star, you can work to become a two-star. So it's a progressive quality enhancement. They're all good. Having a rating is better than not having a rating," said Gannon.

As for Jackie, she recently finished the program, and is going for the full, four-star rating. She'll find out her results sometime in the coming weeks.

Right now, Olmsted County is the only county in our viewing area with the program in place. However, it's expected to be in all counties in the state by 2015.

If you would like to learn more about the program, you can visit the website: http://www.parentawareratings.org/

And if any childcare providers in Southeast Minnesota are interested in more information, you can call Child Care Resource and Referral at 507-424-1529.