Bright & Early ND is North Dakota’s voluntary Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). The QRIS is designed to showcase and support child care and early education programs that go above and beyond to improve their quality of care. Bright & Early ND is an initiative led by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and 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.

By participating in Bright & Early ND, you are demonstrating to children, families, and the greater community that your program is dedicated to continuous quality improvement. Bright & Early ND recognizes programs for going above and beyond, and delivers professional rewards for a job well done.


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 a specific component of care and is composed of a consistent set of quality indicators that measure your program's practices. The Bright & Early ND Steps to Quality build upon each other to create a framework for continuous quality improvement. The outcome is a program that maximizes a child's readiness for school and life. 

Bright & Early ND Overview (PDF, 233 KB) 


You’re busy. We get it. Bright & Early ND isn’t going to give you more to do, it’s going to show you what to focus on to get the maximum results for kids. We take the guesswork out of preparing children for kindergarten. Great school years start with great early childhood years—it’s that simple. If you are ready to begin your quality improvement journey, start with the resources below.

  • Bright & Early ND Playbook

    The Bright & Early ND Playbook is your go-to guide. It establishes a statewide level of quality and contains four steps proven to deliver positive results for children. Commit to carry out the steps in the Playbook, and children in your program are more likely to enter kindergarten with the skills needed to be successful in school and life.

    Bright & Early ND 2019-2021 Playbook (PDF, 1 MB)

  • Bright & Early ND Handbook

    The Bright & Early ND Handbook answers all of your burning questions. Quickly find the information that you need by scrolling through the table of contents. If you have questions that are not answered in the Handbook, feel free to contact us with your question. We’ll email you back with an answer!

    Bright & Early ND 2019-2021 Handbook (PDF, 747 KB)


All DHS licensed programs start at Step 1: Health & Safety. Children need to be healthy and feel safe to learn and grow. It’s the first step in preparing children to be ready for school, work, and life. Programs can apply for a Step 1 Quality Rating at any time. We have partnered with Growing Futures to make the application process quick and streamlined. Check out the resources page for tip sheets and step-by-step tutorials.


Since day one, Bright & Early ND has made it a priority to recognize and reward providers for going above and beyond! Are you looking to enhance your environment or add new learning materials? Do you want recognition for a job well done? You’ve got it. You’ll have support every step of the way with exclusive benefits at your fingertips.