Minneminds Policy Principles For Early Learning & Child Protection Strategy Work Group Recommendations

January 15, 2016 in education, Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs by Mike Tikkanen

default-header2016 Policy Agenda Principles (MinneMinds) & child welfare improvements (from SafePassage for children).

We should all want this for Minnesota children;

Fully support Parent Aware to continue expansion of high quality early learning throughout Minnesota.  PRIORITY SUMMARY: The shortage of early childhood staff, particularly in Greater Minnesota, is a growing crisis not just for the early childhood sector but for employers broadly across the state.  The waiting list for subsidized day care used to be under fifty families – today it is over 7000 families (why is that?).  Center based young child & infant daycare in MN is over fourteen thousand dollars a year and way out of reach for low wage families.

PRIORITY SUMMARY: The Parent Aware quality ratings system, the only external measure of early childhood program quality across all provider types, is a critical element to creating a family focused, accountable high quality early learning system. With startup funding from the federal Race to the Top grant diminishing, new state funding is needed to not only sustain but continue to expand the resources available to reach out, train, and review early learning programs seeking Parent Aware ratings, as well as support continuous improvement of the ratings platform. This includes working aggressively to bring new counties up to speed, expand community-specific services, and support stronger recognition of cultural awareness.

Ongoing focus on ensuring all families most in-need can access high quality early learning and care programs of their choosing that meet the needs of the entire family

PRIORITY SUMMARY: Even with the significant investments in targeted early learning support last session, the most optimistic projections estimate more than 65,000 infants, toddlers and preschoolers from low-income families will still lack full access to high quality early learning and care programs. Legislators will be considering how to allocate approximately $2 billion in budget surplus – MinneMinds will urge legislators to allocate a significant portion of that surplus to closing this opportunity gap by increasing the number of early learning scholarships available for children birth to five.

Additionally, resources for the most in-need families must meet the true cost of high quality programs they seek. This requires making the value of early learning scholarships fully flexible to meet the needs of families, as well as raising reimbursement rates for the Child Care Assistance Program.

Continue to move policy forward developing a scalable quality and accountability model for targeted home visiting

PRIORITY SUMMARY: Last session, important gains were made in advancing this MinneMinds policy priority. We will build on those gains by advocating for additional funding to implement training of home visitors to meet statewide quality standards, as well as establishing pilot projects for expanding high quality home visiting deliver for the families with the greatest need.

Provide early childhood workforce development supports

PRIORITY SUMMARY: The shortage of early childhood staff, particularly in Greater Minnesota, is a growing crisis not just for the early childhood sector but for employers broadly across the state.