Partner Handbook

Partner Handbook

Details, Answers—We’re Here for You

The Partner Handbook answers all of your burning questions.  Quickly find the information that you need by scrolling through the Table of Contents. We’ve worked hard to include all of your questions about Bright & Early North Dakota in the Partner Handbook (PDF, 1.16 MB), but we’ve probably missed a few. If you have questions that are not answered in the Partner Handbook (PDF, 1.16 MB), please contact us with your question. We’ll email you back with an answer.


What is Bright & Early North Dakota?

Bright & Early ND is part of a national movement to define quality child care and make sure our children are ready for school and beyond! Interested in learning about how other states are developing their QRIS system? Click here for a wealth of information

Bright & Early North Dakota is a must for providers trying to influence and change kids lives in a positive way.  Bright & Early North Dakota is an initiative led by the ND Department of Human Services to ensure that children in our state receive the quality child care and early education they need for success in school and life.  We recognize talented child care and early education programs for going above & beyond and deliver professional rewards for a job well done (bonus dollars paid directly to you; personal coach by your side; exclusive insider perks). 

Why is Bright & Early North Dakota Important?

The boom of knowledge and research the last several years has given us all a better understanding of how vital the first five years are for a lifetime of success.  In fact, 90% of a child's brain development happens before kindergarten.  Bright & Early North Dakota gives child care and preschool programs a step-by-step guide (called the Playbook) to maximize this time in a child's life.  When children enter kindergarten prepared to succeed, they stay ahead and become adults who contribute to their community.  The job you do lasts a lifetime.  Great school years start with great child care years- it's that simple. 

Is Bright & Early North Dakota voluntary?


Is there a cost to join Bright & Early North Dakota?

No...just the opposite.  We deliver professional rewards for a job well done.

Are you saying that programs who choose not to participate are not good?

We are not saying this at all. There are many programs that have not yet chosen to participate in Bright & Early North Dakota. The simple truth is that it is difficult to demonstrate the quality of programs who choose not to participate. We are proud to say that those who have joined Bright & Early North Dakota, have gone above and beyond in order to ensure their knowledge is current and their program is top-notch. All participants, whatever step they are on, have committed to providing the best possible care to prepare children for school, work, and life. 

What step should I start with? How long does each step take?

The steps, outlined in the Playbook, build upon each other. For this reason, it’s important to start at Step 1. Once you feel comfortable and confident with Step 1, move on to Step 2. It takes a typical child care or preschool program about 1 year to master each step. 

What's the general process & how long does it take?

Bright & Early ND has chosen to use a Building Block approach to define quality child care; each "Step" builds on each other; so Step 1 is all about licensing and making sure you are committed to the Early Care & Education field. If you have been licensed for 6 months with no correction orders, joining Step 1 will take you about 5 minutes. Step 2, Step 3, & Step 4 will all take you longer due to the specific pieces of quality we focus on in each Step. Lucky for you we partner with Child Care Aware® of ND to match you up with a coach that can help guide you through the requirements. 

Can a program appeal their final Quality Rating?

Yes. Programs will have up to 30 days to appeal a Quality Rating once it has been awarded.

What is the process for appealing a Quality Rating?

If the program feels an incorrect decision was made, they must submit a formal appeal that includes a typed narrative describing the concern. The narrative must address each point listed below. Include as much detail as possible, and attach any supporting documentation referenced in your description.

  • What is your concern? Is it related to Professional Development, observation results, etc.?
  • Why do you disagree with the decision? 
  • Please include your program name, contact person name, email address, and phone number on the typed narrative.

Please send the typed narrative and any additional supporting documentation to Bright & Early ND at Within 30 business days, Bright & Early ND will issue a response, referring to items addressed in the appeal narrative and stating which determinations have been sustained or altered.