Parent Aware Standards, Indicators, and Categories: What Are They?

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I’m at a stage in life where I have many friends and family members with young children, so child care comes up frequently. “I need somewhere to send them that is safe.” “I want them to be ready for kindergarten next year.” “I can’t afford child care!” I often ask them if they have looked at the Parent Aware website to find child care options and resources. The responses vary from “what’s that?” to “that’s where you work, right?”

When I have the chance, I explain that Parent Aware Star Ratings indicate the use of practices that prepare children for school and life. Programs can earn a One-, Two-, Three-, or Four-Star Rating. One-Star Rated programs are using some of the research-based practices that are important for a child’s progress and growth, while Four-Star Rated programs are using many of those practices. Programs earn Ratings by submitting documentation that shows the type of activities they offer in their program and the education and training they have received.

The Star Ratings are comprised of Standards, Indicators, and CategoriesStandards describe key features that represent school-readiness practices, such as “play and interaction” or “learning and belonging.” Indicators are the activities that are shown to make a difference for children. These can be observed and measured. For example, “program shares information in a way that meets the needs of all families,” and “program observes and documents children’s growth and development” are both One-Star Indicators. Lastly, Categories are the groupings of similar Standards and Indicators. Parent Aware currently has five Categories: Teaching and Relationships with Children, Relationships with Families, Assessment and Planning for Each Child, Professionalism, and Health and Well-being.

Parent Aware can be a key resource to families as they navigate the world of child care. We want to help answer some of those hard questions that parents face about who will care for their children while they are at work. Together as educators, advocates, families, and communities, we can make a difference for the young children in our state.