Minnesota has been historically rich in the development of programs and tools that help practitioners provide quality care to children in early childhood and school-age settings. More often than not these professional development tools stood alone, and were not coordinated to allow practitioners clear pathways to move their qualifications and trainings forward. Without the coordination, practitioners often became frustrated when trainings and courses did not articulate or transfer into credits.
Recognizing the need for a coordinated professional development system in Minnesota, the Department of Human Services (DHS) began researching what a quality system for the state should look like. The exploratory process included looking at national standards, surveys of the workforce and input from advisory groups that were made up of broad representation including representatives from contracted agencies of DHS. The key components of a standards-driven, quality professional development system include Core Knowledge, Outreach and Access, Qualifications, Credentials and Pathways, Funding Support and Quality Assurance.
The Minnesota State Legislature in 2007 placed into statute a policy requiring the commissioner of human services, in cooperation with the commissioners of education and health, to develop and phase in the implementation of a professional development system for practitioners serving children in early childhood and school-age programs. DHS issued a request for proposals calling for an agency or agencies to develop, coordinate and implement key elements of this professional development system. Metropolitan State University was awarded the contract.