Early Childhood Professionals

A brighter future.

Mary opened her family child care business five years ago in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. At the time, she was not familiar with Parent Aware, Minnesota’s new quality rating and improvement system, but she was eager to learn how to have more impact in the lives of children and their families.

It had been many years since Mary had received any formal education herself.


For Early Childhood Professionals

Think of the possibilities.

Your job is important. Every interaction you have with children helps shape the person they'll grow up to be. Will they be ready for school?  Will they be equipped with the tools for success in life?  You have the opportunity for tremendous impact. And that's why we're here to help.

Think Small supports excellence in early learning for all types of professionals--providers, parent educators, and teachers. By offering classes, coaching, and financial support, we can help you become the best professional you can be. So you can help kids become the best people they can be.

When you're thinking of the possibilities, Think Small.





Parent Aware is the statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for Minnesota. Every state in the country now has a QRIS. Ours is called Parent Aware. Parent Aware Ratings are focused on getting children ready to succeed in kindergarten and in life! When you volunteer to participate, you go beyond basic health and safety requirements to demonstrate the best practices in early education.

Learn more about Parent Aware here.

Program Benefits

  • Have your quality recognized
  • FREE coaching and assistance
  • Increased access to scholarships for families
  • Ongoing marketing support
  • Higher reimbursement rates
  • Join the community of Rated programs

How to Earn a Star Rating

  • Attend an Orientation Session and apply for participation in a January or July cohort.
  • Join Develop and earn your step on the Career Lattice.
  • Review your program strengths and set a Star Level goal with your Quality coach.
  • Work with your Coach to gather program documentation.
  • Submit your Quality Documentation Portfolio.
  • Receive your Star Rating!  

Contact Jennifer Barshack, Recruitment Supervisor with any questions at 651.233.2297 or at jbarshack@thinksmall.org, or connect with the program in your county below. 

Join the Next Cohort

  • To start in the January 2018 cohort of Parent Aware, complete a Parent Aware Application form and a Participation Agreement form. 
    Providers with Develop accounts may apply online at www.developtoolmn.org.
  • Re-rating programs are also required to submit application forms or apply online.

Download the application and participation agreement.

Metro Area Contacts

Information Sessions will be scheduled September – December 2017. Please contact the appropriate staff in your County to learn more.

Anoka County & Washington County Providers
Contact Katy Chase
Assistant Director of Child Care Support Services & Parent Aware Quality Coach
Anoka County Community Action Program
Direct Phone: 763-783-4881
Email: kchase@accap.org

Carver County & Scott County Providers
Contact Marie Johnson
CAP Agency Child Care Aware of Minnesota
Office: 952-402-9824
Cell: 612-850-2615
Email: mjohnson@capagency.org

Dakota County Providers 
Contact Mischelle Ulrich
Child Care Aware Supervisor
360 Communities
Phone: 952.985.4045
Email: MUlrich@360communities.org

Hennepin County & Ramsey County Providers
Contact Jennifer Barshack
Program Recruitment Supervisor 
Office: 651.233.2297
Email: jbarshack@thinksmall.org

Questions? Contact the local office above, or your Quality Coach. 

Learn More about Parent Aware, watch this video where Providers Speak about their experiences with Parent Aware.