Early Childhood, a section of the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was created in July 2021 to align and focus programs and resources on a key department priority, early childhood experiences.
To make a significant impact on North Dakota children and families by:
- Helping children realize their potential through quality early childhood experiences,
- Supporting the state's workforce needs with improved access to child care, and
- Aligning programs for a maximum return on investment.
Early Childhood Units
The Early Childhood Licensing unit monitors and supports all licensed and certified child care programs. In addition, this unit is the first point of contact for initial child care licensing and certification. The Early Childhood Licensing unit establishes policy and standards to regulate for the health, safety, and well-being of the children in the licensed and certified child care programs.
The Family and School Engagement unit provides resources and support to parents, providers, and stakeholders. In addition, this unit oversees the Head Start Collaboration Office, Early Childhood Special Education services (Part B-619), Waterford UPSTART, Four-Year Old Program Approval and works closely with the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
The Best in Class unit administers, monitors, and supports grantees receiving the ND Best In Class grant, which is a competitive grant award established by the 2021 67th Legislative Assembly and codified in NDCC 50-11.1 to serve North Dakota children and families the year before they enter kindergarten.
The Professional Development unit administers and maintains the Growing Futures Early Childhood Workforce Registry. In addition, this unit provides technical assistance to early childhood professionals around workforce incentives and stipends.
The Quality unit administers, monitors, and supports the development of Bright & Early, North Dakota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). In addition, this unit oversees other quality initiatives in North Dakota that utilize funding from the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF).