Bright & Early ND is North Dakota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). A QRIS is a systematic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early childhood programs. Bright & Early ND was developed to help early childhood programs offer high-quality care that supports each child's learning and development.
Bright & Early ND is designed to:
- Ensure that all children have high-quality early experiences that help them develop the skills they need to be successful in school, work, and life.
- Support early childhood professionals to provide high-quality care by offering resources such as professional development opportunities, coaching, and financial supports.
- Help families find high-quality early childhood programs that fit their needs by providing information about program quality.
Health & Human Services (HHS) administers Bright & Early ND as a key strategy for quality improvement under North Dakota law (NDCC 50-11.1).
Bright & Early ND Framework
Bright & Early ND uses a block system approach which includes four levels, or steps, to quality. Each step focuses on a component of quality care and must be demonstrated by the program before moving to the next step. The outcome is a program that maximizes a child’s readiness for school, work, and life.
Step 1: Health and Safety
Step 1 Quality Rated programs are meeting and maintaining child care licensing regulations, this is the foundation of Bright & Early ND. Licensed early childhood 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 and Materials
Step 2 Quality Rated programs are on the path to continuous quality improvement. They 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 and Experiences
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. Using a curriculum to plan activities and guide teaching practices which align to the North Dakota Early Standards. In addition, they conduct observation-based assessments to ensure children are making progress toward the goals outlined in their curriculum. When children have meaningful experiences, they are better prepared for school, work, and life.
Step 4: Relationships and Interactions
Step 4 Quality Rated 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.
Meeting and maintaining child care licensing regulations is the foundation of Bright & Early ND. These regulations are designed to protect and promote child safety and well-being in all types of settings.
All programs who hold a current license issued by Health & Human Services (HHS) are automatically welcomed into Bright & Early ND as a Step 1 Quality Rated program. If you are ready to continue your quality improvement journey, learn more about the process below.