The 2019 legislative session brings a new opportunity to significantly expand access to high-quality early childhood programs. With 90% of brain development occurring by age five, investing in early childhood helps every child have an equitable opportunity to excel in their future education. It is important we take bold action this session towards closing the opportunity gap by expanding access to high-quality early care and education programs.
MinneMinds legislative action is guided by the following core principles:
- Expanding access to scholarships that meet the needs of low-income children from birth to five-years-old and prioritizing children with the highest needs.
- Increasing access, flexibility and funding for targeted home visiting programs.
- Supporting programs that lead to quality early care and education, including Parent Aware and Kindergarten Entry Profile (KEP). It is important to ensure that Parent Aware has the necessary resources to support early care and education providers and back a culturally relevant KEP via approved assessment tools.
- Assisting efforts of our partners advocating for family and provider-friendly provisions of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization. We also support efforts to expand the provider pipeline and encourage workforce growth by increasing funding for grants, tax credits and policies for early childhood providers.
This year’s legislative session began with a great start in both the House and Senate. House legislators introduced House File 1 (H.F.1), or the Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act. It is a strong, comprehensive bill, upon which we can build. H.F.1 includes the following provisions that we strongly support:
- Expand Early Learning Scholarships and CCAP (Child Care Assistance Program) to help tens of thousands of low-income Minnesota children age three and under who can’t afford quality early learning programs.
- Enhance home visiting programs that provide coaching and customized support to parents of Minnesota’s most vulnerable children.
- Invest in childcare start-up grants to help address quality child care shortages.
While H.F.1 has several great provisions, we urge House members to expand access to Early Learning Scholarships for four-year-olds. Representatives should also support high-quality early childhood programs by ensuring that Parent Aware has the necessary resources for providers and by supporting a culturally relevant KEP via approved assessment tools.
The Senate is also off to a great start as Senator Carla Nelson authored bipartisan bill S.F.1306, which would increase access to early childhood scholarships for 3- and 4-year-olds. We would like to urge Senate members to include children from birth to two-years-old in expanding access to early childhood scholarships. This is crucial because 80% of brain development happens in the first three years of life, and thousands of Minnesotan families struggle with the costs of early childcare. We are also excited to see Senator Relph announce S.F.1438, a bill that would expand access and flexibility to voluntary home visiting.
These bills mark a crucial time in early childhood education in Minnesota, but we still need your help. Make your voice heard by calling on our state’s leaders to support bipartisan policies and legislation to improve long-term outcomes and success for our children.
Contact Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan
Ask them to prioritize investing in our state’s youngest, most vulnerable children!
Call 651-201-3400 or contact the Governor’s office online.
If we hope to close the opportunity gap, our state must continue to support investments that increase access to high-quality programs and ensure all of our children have access to them. We must make it clear to Minnesota lawmakers that early childhood support must continue to be a top bipartisan priority in order to reach an agreement that will benefit tens of thousands of families and our state’s future.