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The Duluth Area Family YMCA childcare centers in Hermantown and Grand Marais have earned the 4-Star rating from Parent Aware, a leading early childhood rating organization. This recognition reflects the YMCA's dedication to providing exceptional care and education to the children and families in our community.

Parent Aware's 4-Star rating is the highest level of achievement a childcare provider can attain. It signifies that the Duluth Area Family YMCA's childcare centers have demonstrated all the One-, Two-, and Three-Star practices, and, importantly, have committed to ongoing quality improvement by implementing a range of best practices.

"We are immensely proud to receive the 4-Star Parent Aware rating," said Sara Cole, President and CEO of the Duluth Area Family YMCA. "This recognition reaffirms our commitment to delivering top-notch early childhood education and care. We strive to create a nurturing, inclusive, and stimulating environment that empowers children to thrive and reach their full potential."

Among the key best practices implemented are:

. Responding to unique cultural customs and needs of children and families, ensuring a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.

. Offering activities that encourage family participation and support children's smooth transition to kindergarten, promoting a strong family-child connection.

. Providing families with opportunities to provide feedback about the program, fostering open communication and continuous improvement.

. Sharing child development updates with families to collaboratively set and achieve developmental goals.

. Making accommodations for children with special needs and their families, ensuring every child's needs are met.

. Employing highly-qualified and trained leadership staff, teachers, and providers, enhancing the quality of education and care provided.

. Creating a program-wide professional development plan, enabling staff to continuously enhance their skills and expertise.

. Encouraging healthy living through nutrition and physical activity, with regular evaluations to set and achieve health-related goals.

Additionally, as a reward for earning the 4-Star rating, the YMCA's childcare centers have received a $4,000 grant. This grant will help them acquire essential supplies, materials, and equipment, further enhancing the quality of services provided.

Moreover, the 4-Star rating enables children from income-eligible families to be eligible for scholarships of up to $12,000, ensuring access to high-quality early learning programs for more children in the community.