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Knowledge Center
Center on the States
Cultivating, supporting, and disseminating innovations

State Spotlights


Minnesota’s QRIS, known as Parent Aware, is a four-star level system. Quality improvement grants are available to programs with a one, two or three-star rating.  Three and four-star rated providers receive higher reimbursement rates.  Head Start programs are part of the “Accelerated Pathway to Rating,” along with accredited child care and public school prekindergarten programs. According to the QRIS Compendium (2014), there are 258 Head Start programs participating in Parent Aware. Learn more about Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and find out more about state specific QRIS

North Carolina

North Carolina is providing coaching and training to child care under its Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. North Carolina received the four-year grant to improve the quality of early childhood education across settings and sectors.  As part of its plan, North Carolina is promoting engagement strategies across settings and sectors by 1) strengthening the family engagement standards in its quality rating and improvement system and 2) using Head Start grantees to provide coaching and training to child care providers across the state in effective family engagement strategies. Currently, 22 Head Start and Early Head Start grantees serve as hubs to provide the coaching and training to child care providers across the state. To learn more visit North Carolina's Early Learning Challenge website


Indiana’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, Paths to QUALITY, has four levels of quality rating. Programs can earn cash and noncash rewards, higher child care reimbursements, and technical assistance as they ascend the levels.  Level 1 is health and safety; Level 2 adds environment supports for children’s learning; Level 3 begins to add a planned curriculum for development and school; and national accreditation occurs at Level 4.  According to the Indiana Head Start Association, 85% of Head Start and Early Head Start programs participate in the system. Of those who do participate, 31% of the programs are at Level 3 and 56% at Level 4. Learn more about Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and state-specific QRIS. 


Iowa’s early care and education advisory council, Early Childhood Iowa (ECI), includes six component groups, including one for professional development. The professional development component group promotes integration of professional development systems, advises the early learning standards and QRIS, and promotes infrastructure that supports quality professional development. Through the Iowa Head Start Collaboration Office, Head Start is a major player in professional development systems in Iowa. The Iowa Head Start State Collaboration Office actively participates in this group, and has noted that early learning programs in the state prepare staff to move amongst the various programs, which results in a more qualified early childhood workforce in the state. Learn more about state early learning systems here

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