Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bright & Early ND?

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

Bright & Early ND is an initiative led by the ND Department of Human Services (DHS) to ensure that North Dakota’s children 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 and beyond, and we deliver professional rewards for a job well done.

Why is quality important in child care and early education programs?

In the first five years of life, a child's brain develops faster than any other time in their life. In fact, more than one million new neural connections are formed every second. By age five, 90% of their brain has developed. The experiences children have during this period will have a lasting impact. That's what makes high-quality early care and education so important. Research shows that children who have access to high-quality early care do better in school, make healthier choices, and are more likely to graduate and find employment.

What does a quality child care or early education program look like?

Quality child care and early education programs start with North Dakota licensing and builds upon those rules and regulations. Quality programs have directors, teachers, and/or caregivers that are knowledgeable in child development and recognize the importance of creating a developmentally appropriate environment that is safe and nurtures a child’s interests. They understand how important their feedback and interactions are to a child’s development, and they can appropriately assess a child’s developmental needs and create opportunities for each child to build upon what they already know in anticipation of their next developmental milestone.

What are the Bright & Early ND Quality Ratings and what do they mean?

Bright & Early ND Quality Ratings are reliable and easy to understand. Bright & Early ND uses a block system approach which incorporates four standards, or steps, to quality. Each of the Bright & Early ND Steps to Quality focuses on one component of care and is composed of consistent set of quality indicators that measure the program's practices. The Bright & Early ND Steps to Quality build upon each other to create a continuous quality improvement cycle and a program that maximizes a child's readiness for school and life. 

Why should I look for a child care program with the Bright & Early ND Quality Rating symbol?

Since Bright & Early ND is currently a voluntary system, not all child care and early education programs participate. The Bright & Early ND Quality Rating symbols make it easy to spot programs that are going above and beyond for the children in their care. It is somewhat difficult to determine if a child care program is providing quality opportunities for children. That’s why Bright & Early ND developed the Steps to Quality to assist families and help communities easily identify programs that are doing great things for children. Look for the Bright & Early ND Quality Rated symbols when you are searching for a child care or early education program for your child. Finding a Quality Rated program assures you that program goes above basic licensing standards. Bright & Early ND Quality Rated programs are never satisfied with where they are at—they are on a continuous quality improvement mission!

What types of child care and early education programs can participate in Bright & Early ND?

Currently, any child care program that serves children between the ages of birth to five years old and has been licensed for a minimum of 6 months can participate in Bright & Early ND. This includes family child care programs, group child care programs, child care centers, and preschools.

Are child care and early education programs required to participate in Bright & Early ND?

No, Bright & Early ND is currently a voluntary system.

Are there incentives for participating in Bright & Early ND?

Yes! Since day one, Bright & Early ND has made it a priority to recognize and reward programs for going above and beyond. Programs that participate in Bright & Early ND receive exclusive benefits that support and sustain their continued quality improvement journey. Some of the benefits include free or low-cost training opportunities, access to grants used to purchase new materials and equipment, Quality Rating award dollars for a job well done, and marketing materials to showcase their program as Bright & Early ND Quality Rated.