North Dakota's Best in Class program is a targeted state investment in programs committed to delivering the highest quality experiences to the children and families they serve, and whose actions can demonstrate the return that is possible with intentional, research-supported investments in early childhood. ND Best in Class is built on program characteristics that drive results - high quality, supported interactions between adults and children based on developmentally appropriate experiences. 

Teaching staff will be coached and supported in implementing developmentally appropriate environments, play-based curriculum, and authentic observation-based assessments to drive individualized experiences to support children in reaching widely held expectations in the year before kindergarten.

The work done in these programs will be monitored, evaluated, and supported to help ensure that the investment we make has an impact.

Who can apply to participate in ND Best in Class program?

North Dakota early childhood programs interested in quality improvement that serve children who have reached age four before Aug. 1, 2023, are eligible to apply.

This includes:

  • Licensed child care programs (center or group), including those operated through a church, business, or organization, that are in good licensing standing and participating in Bright & Early ND with a current rating of Step 3 or 4.
  • Programs operated by educational facilities, public or private that are committed to completing the Four-Year-Old Program Approval every two years.
  • Federally funded Head Start programs. If not also licensed by NDDHHS, program must have completed the Four-Year-Old Program Approval. 

Application Information (2023-2024 program year)

  • STEP 1: Read the Best in Class Program Description, Environment Standards, and Health & Safety Standards (below) to determine if your program would be a good fit to participate in Best in Class.
  • STEP 2:  Complete the Best in Class Application and e-mail completed application to by 5 p.m. CT, Thursday, April 27, 2023
  • STEP 3: Best in Class team members will interview applicants and discuss the Best in Class components no later than May 15, 2023
  • STEP 4: Award notifications will be made around May 19.

Best in Class Program Description & Standards 

READ before applying.

Program Documents

Questions about ND Best in Class? Contact Us.

Early Childhood Section

600 E. Boulevard Avenue, Dept. 325
Bismarck, ND 58505-0250
Phone: (701) 328-2115, 711 (TTY)
Toll-Free: (800) 997-8516