Letter to Health and Human Services Conference Committee Members

Dear Health and Human Services Conference Committee Members:

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank members of the House and Senate for advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. We also thank Chairs Dean and Benson for their tireless and thoughtful leadership on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget targets.

We would like to highlight items that we strongly support from the House and Senate Omnibus bills:

● We urge the committee to increase access to targeted home visiting. These programs provide community-led solutions that stabilize two generations of Minnesotans. Voluntary targeted home visiting empowers at-risk parents with parenting and family support tools to become self-sustaining, healthy families.

● The House has taken the first step in providing additional funding for the Child Care Assistance (CCAP) Program. Please support the House position and build on it by funding CCAP program improvements that will allow families to access and maintain affordable, stable child care, and conform to federal requirements.

We thank you again for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children and for working to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Letter to Education Conference Committee Members

Dear Education Conference Committee Members:

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank members of the House and Senate for advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. We also thank Education Finance Committee Chairs Nelson and Loon for their leadership on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget targets.

We must take action to address Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation opportunity gap. To close this gap, we need investment in early care and education from birth to 5 years old. This legislative session, we have a unique opportunity for bipartisan compromise to support initiatives that will significantly reduce the opportunity gap, create job growth, and contribute to the economic vitality of our state for years to come.

We would like to highlight a few items that we strongly support from the House and Senate omnibus bills; along with changes that we believe would improve the bills:

● We appreciate the support for continued funding for early childhood scholarships. Increased access to scholarships is essential to closing the opportunity gap. We thank you for expanding eligibility for scholarships to children from birth to 2 with the greatest need. Research shows that early investments are most effective and provide the highest return on investment.

● We appreciate the increase in funding for early childhood scholarships. As you know, close to 40,000 children do not have access to much-needed quality early childhood care and education. We ask you to significantly increase this investment to serve more of our most vulnerable children.

● We also urge the conference committee to increase access to flexible voluntary targeted home visiting. Theseprograms provide community-led solutions that stabilize two generations of Minnesotans. Targeted home visiting empowers at-risk parents with parenting and family support tools to become self-sustaining, healthy families.

● We support the language that prioritizes scholarship applications for children that have experienced homelessness in the past 24 months or are in foster care or in need of protective services, in addition to the children of teen parents. This assures that we are first serving the children with the greatest need.

● We are concerned about the possible elimination of Pathway 2 scholarships. We support making improvements to this program, but believe these scholarships are an important option for eligible children and families. Pathway 2 scholarships enable high-quality rated, mixed delivery programs across the state to provide effective early care and education that meets local needs.

We thank you again for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children, and for working to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality, year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Letter to the Minnesota Senate

Chair Nelson and Members of the Senate,

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank Senate Members for their tireless and thoughtful work in advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. This work is essential to eliminate Minnesota’s opportunity gap, which is the worst in the nation. We thank Chair Nelson for her efforts on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget targets.

We want to highlight a few items that we strongly support in the Senate File 718, and provisions that we urge Members to include or change:

• We appreciate the support in this bill for early childhood scholarships. We thank you for expanding eligibility for scholarships from just 3 and 4 year olds to all children under age 5. Human and brain development begins before birth, and continues at an incredible pace through the early years of life.

• We appreciate the increase in funding for early childhood scholarships. As you know, currently over 80% of low income children, or close to 40,000 children, do not have access to much needed scholarships. We ask you to significantly increase this investment to serve more of our most vulnerable children.

• We thank you for funding the Parent Child Home Program and for the Home Visiting aid. The MinneMinds Coalition supports home visiting, but would like to see that flexible targeted home visiting get funded.

• We support the language in SF 718 that prioritizes scholarship applications for children that have experienced homelessness in the past 24 months or are in foster care or in need of protective services, in addition to the children of teen parents. This assures that we are first serving the children with the greatest need.

We thank you again for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children and for working to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Letter to the Minnesota House of Representatives

Chair Loon and Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives,

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank House Members for their tireless and thoughtful work in advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. This work is essential to eliminate Minnesota’s opportunity gap, which is the worst in the nation. We thank Chair Loon and Representative Kresha for their efforts on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget targets.

We want to highlight a few items that we strongly support in the House File 890, and provisions that we urge Members to include or change:

• We appreciate the support in this bill for early childhood scholarships. We urge Members expand eligibility for scholarships for children from birth to age 5. Human and brain development begins before birth, and continues at an incredible pace through the early years of life.

• We are concerned about the elimination of Pathway 2 scholarships. We support making improvements to this program, but believe these scholarships are an important option for eligible children and families. Pathway 2 scholarships enable high quality rated and mixed delivery programs across the state to provide effective early care and education that meets local needs.

• We appreciate the increase in funding for early childhood scholarships. As you know, currently over 80% of low income children, or close to 40,000 children, do not have access to much needed scholarships. We ask you to increase this investment to serve more of our most vulnerable children.

• We thank you for funding the Parent Child Home Program and for the Home Visiting aid. The MinneMinds Coalition supports home visiting, but would like to see that flexible targeted home visiting get funded.

• We support the new funding for Parent Aware, but this may not be sufficient funding to support the backbone of the scholarship model – the quality ratings system – even with federal funding. We prefer the language in the MinneMinds bill.

• We support the language in House File 890 that gives prioritization to scholarship applications for:

  1. Children with a parent under age 21 who is pursuing a high school diploma or a course of study for a high school equivalency test,
  2. Children that are in foster care or otherwise in need of protection or services
  3. Children that have experienced homelessness in the last 24 months

We thank you again for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children and for working to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

State Money Awarded to Organizations to Help with Daycare Shortage in Greater Minnesota

March 19, 2017 11:09 PM

Some type of child care arrangements are used by 600,000 families in Minnesota.

In some part of the state, there are three times as many children as daycares, including outside the seven-county metro area. The Minnesota Department of Human Services reports from 2005-2015, the number of licensed in-home providers dropped 27 percent.

Jim Koppel works for DHS and said more daycare providers have been leaving the business than joining it because of “retirements, long hours, low pay and regulation.”

Balaton is a small town three hours southwest of the Twin Cities. It’s a farming community hit hard by the lack of options according to Erin Hall. The mother of three works full-time and said, “There’s not enough to go around. None of my kids have gone to the same daycare.”

READ FULL ARTICLE…

Boosting economy from infancy

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Imagine this scenario: a variety of “teams” aggressively competing to recruit hot prospects barely out of diapers.

Sounds like a kiddie NFL football draft. It’s not. It’s roughly my take of Arthur Rolnick’s designs on how best to invest in and develop Minnesota’s and America’s future work force.

“I believe your vision of it is correct,” Rolnick said as he took a phone break last week from a federal open market committee meeting in Washington.

Deciding federal interest rates is part of what Rolnick does for a living as senior vice president and director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Some of his research involves a study of pre-Civil War banking.

But it’s what he came up with four years ago and last year that just might leave an indelible mark on society.

READ FULL ARTICLE…

 

MinneMinds Members

On Thursday this week, We had a great team testifying with Representative Ron Kresha on behalf of HF1997, a bi-partisan bill supported by the MinneMinds coalition that increases resources for our youngest and most vulnerable children. Testifiers included Local parent TraNecia Sylvester, who gave a moving testimony about her families success story thanks in part to early childhood scholarships, MinneMinds executive committee members Barb Fabre, Director with White Earth Child Care and Daniel Gumnit, CEO People Serving People.

Also testifying were Stacey Stout from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Jim Bartholomew from the Minnesota Business Partnership.

In this Bill:

• In early childhood scholarships, eligibility is expanded to children age 0-5.
• Current law gives teen parents priority. Priority is expanded for children in foster care, in need of protection, or homeless.
• Legislation removes the scholarship cap and gives flexibility to provide each child what they need.
• Legislation provides funding for locally-controlled, targeted home visiting.

These strategies are researched based. We know that this works. With strong bipartisan support we can provide our most vulnerable children and families with the support they need, significantly reduce the opportunity gap, we can lift two-generations of Minnesotans out of poverty, help our families thrive, and contribute to our state’s workforce.

#OurChildrenMN #MinneMinds #MNleg

MinneMinds Hearing Thursday March 16th, 2017 at 1 pm.

MinneMinds Members,

The legislature will be holding an IMPORTANT HEARING THIS WEEK related to the MinneMinds legislative agenda.

Please come to Thursday’s hearing for a great chance to show our collective support.

Thursday, March 16, 1:00pm

5 State Office Building

Representative Kresha (Bill Author) – H.F. 1997

Education Finance Committee, Chair: Rep. Jenifer Loon

Early learning scholarship program child eligibility modified, early learning scholarship program administration modified, targeted home visiting grant program for high-risk populations established, and money appropriated.

Other hearings of interest this week:
Wednesday, March 15, 3:00pm
10 State Office Building

Representative Baker (Bill Author) – H.F. 1410

Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee, Chair: Pat Garofalo
Child care business start-up and expansion grants provided, and money appropriated

We hope to see you there!

Three important Hearings THIS WEEK (Mon 3/6, Tues 3/7, Wed 3/8)

This coming week the legislature will be holding at least three hearings related to the MinneMinds legislative agenda. Please come to these hearings for a great chance to show support the home visiting and scholarship portions of our policy agenda. There are three hearings, two in the Senate and another one in the House of Representatives. More information below:

Monday, March 6, 3:00pm
Senator Relph (Bill Author) – S.F. 1607
Targeted home visiting services for high-risk populations appropriation
Committee on Human Services Reform Finance and Policy
Chair, Senator Jim Abeler
Room 1200, Senate Building
*The hearing will break at 5pm and reconvene in room 1100 at 5:30pm
**NOTE: It is expected that the home visiting portion of the hearing will occur after the 5:00pm break.

Tuesday March 7th 3 p.m.
Senator Nelson (Bill Author) -S.F. 1663
Early learning scholarship program child eligibility and administration modifications and appropriations
Chair, Sen. Eric R. Pratt
Room 1100 Minnesota Senate Bldg.

Wednesday, March 8, 1:00pm
Representative Kresha (Bill Author) – HF1784
Targeted home visiting services for high-risk populations funding provided, and money appropriated
Committee on Health and Human Services Finance
Chair, Representative Matt Dean
Room 200 State Office Building

We hope to see you there!

Advocacy for Children Day at Capitol & MinneMinds Bill Introduction

ST PAUL, Minn. — A diverse group of over 700 children, parents, childcare providers, community leaders, advocates and lawmakers gathered in the Rotunda at the State Capitol yesterday, for what Sen. Carla Nelson shared with the audience  was “the biggest rally at the Capitol so far this year”.

The event was held to give Minnesota children and advocates an opportunity to meet legislators, to celebrate the introduction of SF-1663 and HF1997, and to serve as a call to action for supporters of the movement to increase access to quality early development and education programs. The event began with a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives reading to the preschoolers in attendance.

Andre Dukes, director of Curriculum and Instruction at Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), opened the event by thanking the organizations and sponsors in attendance, and recognizing the progress made over recent years. Dukes noted “These organizations could have never made such progress without you,” while speaking to the group gathered in the Rotunda. Drawing on his experience at NAZ, Dukes continued by affirming the efficacy of early childhood programming.

Local parent TraNecia Sylvester echoed Dukes’ sentiments by recounting her positive experience with targeted home visiting, the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), and early learning scholarships. Sylvester shared “these programs helped in my children’s early development, and allowed me the opportunity to pursue a career I love.” Sylvester added, “Early childhood investments are the most important investments our state can make.”

Rep. Jenifer Loon spoke of her long-standing support of investments in early childhood, urging the importance of allocating the budget in ways that bring “returns for all of us.” Melvin Carter, Director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, led an invigorating rendition of the ABCs, and encouraged all in attendance to make the most of their visit to the capitol by connecting with legislators in support of a recently-introduced bill.

Sen. Carla Nelson, a former teacher who referred to education as “the great equalizer,” took the stage to give an overview of SF-1663, a bill which will increase access to early education scholarships for zero- to five-year-olds, and funds targeted home visiting for at-risk families from prenatal to age two. Sen. Nelson further stated that the bill empowers families to make the right choices for their children’s education, while aiding them in seeking and maintaining employment. Sen. Nelson shared, “Scholarships provide a two-generational solution, that’s what we’re looking for here. It closes the achievement gap, it reduces the looming workforce shortage, and helps families break the cycle of poverty”

Rep. Peggy Flanagan shared with the audience that it is very important that the grown-ups that work at the Capitol think about the children in attendance when they make decisions, and that they make sure kids’ needs are met. Brief remarks by Rep. Ron Kresha, main author of HF1997, further encouraged attendees to raise their voices and speak to their elected officials. Daniel Yang, organizer for the Voices and Choice Coalition, spoke to the importance of programs for children that appropriately address the full needs of families of color and American Indian families.

Sarah Caruso, president and CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way, gave closing remarks, thanking legislators for their bipartisan support of SF-1663 and HF-1997 and encouraging everyone in attendance to remain at the capitol get to know their senators and representatives, and to show their support for early care and education.