Steps to Quality

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 a 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 framework for continuous quality improvement. The outcome is a program that maximizes a child's readiness for school, work, and life. Use our research-based Quality Ratings to spot programs that go above and beyond for the children in their care.

What do the Bright & Early ND Quality Ratings represent?

  • Step 1: Health & Safety

    Step 1

    Meeting and maintaining child care licensing regulations is the foundation of the Bright & Early ND Steps to Quality. These regulations are designed to protect and promote child safety and well-being in all types of settings. Licensed programs are required to maintain at least minimum standards related to; physical space, safety features, cleanliness, staff qualifications and staff-to-child ratios. Children need to be healthy and feel safe to learn and grow. It is the first step in preparing children to be ready for school, work, and life.

  • Step 2: Space & Materials

    Step 2

    Step 2 Quality Rated programs continue to meet the requirements of Step 1 and provide a safe, responsive, and engaging environment that sets the stage for optimal early childhood experiences. An intentionally designed environment allows opportunities for children to experiment, practice their skills, analyze, socialize, and problem solve. When the environment supports children's learning and development, they are better prepared for school, work, and life. 

  • Step 3: Activities & Experiences

    Step 3

    Step 3 Quality Rated programs continue to meet the requirements of Steps 1 and 2, and provide meaningful activities and experiences that build upon children's strengths and development. They use a curriculum to plan activities and guide teaching practices which align to the North Dakota Early Learning Standards (PDF, 16 KB). In addition, they implement an observation-based assessment system to ensure children are making progress toward the goals outlined in their curriculum.

  • Step 4: Relationships & Interactions

    Step 4

    Step 4 Quality Assured programs continue to meet the requirements of Steps 1–3, and foster relationships that support and emphasize children’s interests, motivations, and points of view. All children benefit from being in warm, supportive environments where they can take risks, learn new things and develop strong relationships with their caregivers and peers. When children experience high-quality interactions, they are better prepared for school, work, and life.