What Is Bright & Early ND?

Bright & Early ND is North Dakota's Quality Rating & Improvement System (QRIS). Bright & Early ND is part of a national movement to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in child care and early education programs across our state.

The Bright & Early ND Quality Rating & Improvement System helps North Dakota families assess how a child care program supports their child's early learning and development. You use ratings to choose restaurants, hotels, movies, schools and universities. The same concept is used by Bright & Early ND. Child care providers and early education programs are rated by Bright & Early ND based on specific standards that define quality. You can be confident Bright & Early ND Quality Rated programs have your child's best interest in mind. 

About Bright & Early ND

To maximize the learning that occurs in the early years, the North Dakota Department of Human Services launched Bright & Early ND statewide in 2015.  Bright & Early ND is an organized and cost effective framework to sustain child care capacity, develop the child care workforce, prepare children to enter school ready to succeed, and provide valuable consumer information to families.  

Build & Sustain Child Care Capacity

Bright & Early ND rewards programs that demonstrate success, providing revenue to stabilize operations and encourage expansion.

Develop the Child Care Workforce

Bright & Early ND sets benchmarks for Program Directors, Lead Teachers and Caregiver qualifications and provides incentives to meet them.

Prepare Children to Enter School Ready to Succeed

Bright & Early ND is an avenue to maximize learning in the settings where children spend their day.

Provide Consumer Information to Families

Bright & Early ND translates a program’s accomplishments in to one, simple quality rating. Ratings provide an easy-to-use tool for parents to identify child care providers and early education programs, who go above and beyond, for children in our community. 

How Does Bright & Early ND Work? 

Bright & Early ND uses four Quality Standards to measure the quality of care within the child care and early education program. Each step has a set of criteria that build upon each other to create a program that maximizes a child’s readiness for school. Good child care and early education programs combine play with learning. Each child has fun while developing the curiosity, social skills, self-esteem and knowledge necessary to be prepared for school and life. Child care and early education programs volunteer to join Bright & Early ND. When they make this commitment, they have access to a variety of tools to help improve their program.

Quality Standards

Science tells us what young brains need to thrive. Bright & Early ND Quality Standards translate this scientific research into do-able actions. These actions are divided into 4 steps, resulting in a clear ‘road-map’ for programs to maximize a child’s readiness for school.

Technical Assistance

One of the key advantages of Bright & Early ND is the one-on-one interactions with a trained Coach. The coach shares feedback and provides assistance to providers and teachers to meet the Quality Standards.


Programs gain recognition and resources for DOING good things for children, not just SAYING they do good things for children. In Bright & Early ND, programs demonstrate how they meet the standards via formal observations.


When programs demonstrate they meet the Quality Standards, they receive dollars to re-invest into their program to improve their services, retain their staff, or expand their capacity.

Consumer Information

Gives parents an independent, expert resource they can use to identify and compare their early care and education options to find the best fit for their child.

Why Does Quality Matter?

Early experiences last a lifetime. Children have approximately 1,825 days from the day they are born until they enter kindergarten. What happens on this journey lays the foundation for their school and life success. Research by social scientists, neuroscientists, and economists demonstrates that the quality of an early childhood program affects a child’s development across a range of skills, including language, math and social skills. The quality of child care and early education impacts school achievement and success in life. Great school years start with great early years – it’s that simple.