Parents and Early Childhood Advocates Urge Minnesota Lawmakers To Prioritize Early Childhood Funding to Address Early Childhood Care and Education Crisis

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota — On Thursday, several parents and early childhood advocates urged Minnesota lawmakers to prioritize early childhood funding and address Minnesota’s early childhood care and education crisis at New Horizon Academy. Located in Brooklyn Park, New Horizon Academy is a four-star Parent Aware institution committed to providing high-quality care.

Advocates at the event noted that Minnesota has one of the worst opportunity gaps in the nation. “More than 33,000 children lack access to quality early childhood education and over 16,000 families lack access to voluntary home visiting” said Ann Mulholland, executive vice president of the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundations and co-chair of the MinneMinds coalition. The early childhood crisis is even more apparent in Greater Minnesota, as there has been a net loss of over 15,000 child care spaces on top of the already astronomical number of children lacking access.

Besides New Horizon Academy, Minnesota has other high-quality early childhood programs actively working towards bridging opportunity gaps, such Way to Grow. For nearly 30 years, Way to Grow has brought different communities together to support early childhood care and education in Minnesota. In 2018, they served over 2,400 clients, conducted over 11,600 home visits, and made over 2,300 resource referrals to families. But they’re not done yet: according to Carolyn Smallwood, CEO of Way to Grow, their newest learning center in Brooklyn Center aims to provide “extra support to parents through opportunities like home visiting and parent-child classes”.

For many parents, programs such as early learning scholarships are one of the few resources they have to help send their child to a quality education program due to high costs, but they are well worth it. New Horizon Academy parent Marie expressed how her child benefited from an early learning scholarship, stating: “without that scholarship…I’d constantly be worried if he’s on track or if he’s going to be behind in school. [Since] being in New Horizon, I’ve seen him at so many milestones.”  Early learning scholarships have also helped Marie by enabling her to save money for nursing school and start her career.

Many early childhood advocates, including MinneMinds co-chair Acooa Ellis, are dedicated to making a difference not only for children but for Minnesota as a whole. “We all lose when our community fails to support the growth of a child into their brilliance. “ says Ellis, who is also senior vice president of Community Impact for Greater Twin Cities United Way. “If we want to close these gaps, we must continue to prioritize investing in quality early childhood programs and make sure all of our children have access to them. This must be a bipartisan priority.”

MinneMinds, is a broad coalition of over 100 statewide organizations including foundations, nonprofits and advocacy groups, all united in prioritizing Minnesota’s youngest children as the most important investment for a stronger Minnesota. The MinneMinds agenda is supported by parents, early childhood care and education leaders, teachers, business leaders and community members united in making access to high-quality early care and education possible for every child in Minnesota.


MinneMinds Responds to Governor Walz’s Budget Proposal on Early Childhood

Last week, Governor Walz released his 2020-2021 budget recommendations that included investments to support early childhood development. MinneMinds applauds the Governor’s leadership on behalf of Minnesota’s children.

As a statewide coalition with over 100 members, MinneMinds is dedicated to equitable access to high quality, mixed delivery, accessible and culturally competent early childhood care and education. With over 90% of brain development occurring by age five, we know the needs of Minnesota’s children should be met from prenatal to age five, with multi-generational solutions.

Eliminating Minnesota’s opportunity gaps must be a top priority this session as they remain among the worst in the nation. Both Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan understand how important early childhood care and education is to Minnesota’s future, and MinneMinds strongly supports Governor Walz’s February 19, 2019 statement: “closing these opportunity gaps isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s an economic necessity as our workforce demands are ever increasing.”

MinneMinds supports many of the important early childhood investments included in the Governor’s budget. We appreciate the increased investment of $44 million in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). By increasing CCAP reimbursement rates, our most at-risk families will have increased access to early care and education options. We support the Governor’s decision to provide $1 million for grants through the Department of Employment and Economic Development for communities to address the childcare shortage. We also support the Governor’s recommendation of transferring scholarship appropriation into a special revenue fund to ensure more early learning scholarships are awarded. This fund would allow unused dollars to be returned and given to those on the waitlist. Currently, funds may go unused if a family’s eligibility changes during the year–this fund would reduce the 1,700 child waitlist.

At least 33,000 children currently do not have access to much-needed quality early childhood care and education and over 16,000 families lack access to voluntary home visiting. We hope  that the state’s final budget will increase funding for early childhood scholarships and voluntary home visiting. Scholarships support families with the greatest need and allow parents to choose the best high-quality early childhood program for their children. Home visiting empowers at-risk parents by providing invaluable family support tools that create self-sustaining, healthy families. Significant increases in investment for these programs is a critical solution to eliminating Minnesota’s opportunity gaps.  

We also believe that Governor Walz and legislative leaders should further support programs that lead to quality early care and education, including Parent Aware and Kindergarten Entry Profile (KEP). Both Parent Aware and KEP will help Minnesotans understand which programs are the most effective at preparing our youngest learners for success in kindergarten and beyond. The Governor’s budget proposal supports these programs at current levels, but we must ensure these programs are fully funded to fulfill their missions.

Our goal is to ensure that thousands of Minnesotan children have access to high-quality, culturally relevant, year-round, all-day early childhood care, education, and voluntary home visiting. We believe this budget is a positive step towards strengthening our families and the state’s future. MinneMinds is committed to working together with the Governor and Legislators to advancing these key priorities.

A MinneMinds Call to Action for Our Youngest Children

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. 

Gubernatorial Questionnaire Answers

With only a few short weeks until the 2018 Primary Election and only a few short months from the 2018 General Election, MinneMinds is reaching out to candidates of both parties to keep early childhood care and education as a top issue in their agenda.

We reached out to each of the candidates running for Governor in the August primary and have attached their responses below.

Johnson Questionnaire

Murphy Questionnaire

Pawlenty Questionnaire

Swanson Questionnaire

Walz Questionnaire

Letter to Conferees

May 11, 2018

Dear Supplemental Finance Bill Conferees,

As we approach the end of session, the MinneMinds coalition would like to remind Minnesota lawmakers that today over 35,000 children in our state don’t have access to quality early childhood care and education. With a $329 million surplus, and our state facing one of the worst opportunity gaps in the nation, there is no better return on public dollars than investing in our youngest and most vulnerable children.

Now is the best time to increase access for early childhood scholarships, targeted home visiting programs and to increase reimbursements for the Child Care assistance program (CCAP).

A recent report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor recommended that we need to assess children to determine their school readiness as they enter kindergarten. An important next step would be to support the statewide expansion, implementation and fully funding of a culturally and linguistically relevant Kindergarten Entry Profile via approved assessment tools.

As much of Minnesota faces a child care crisis, and many professionals that work in early childhood care and education are not making a livable wage, we support expanding state grants for retaining and increasing the number of providers.

The following bills and proposals reflect MinneMinds key values and we encourage lawmakers to support them:

  • Kindergarten Assessment: We support language in the Omnibus Education Bill HF 4328 that directs the commissioner of education to implement a kindergarten readiness assessment representative of incoming kindergartners. We would encourage the legislature to fully fund a culturally and linguistically relevant Kindergarten Entry Profile via approved assessment tools.
  • Targeted Home Visiting: We support language in the omnibus health, human services, and transportation policy and finance bill HF 3138. Amending evidence-based Home Visiting language, passed last session, to now include both evidence-based home visiting AND targeted home visiting (evidence-informed and/or promising programs). The language requires at least 75% of funds be spent on evidence-based home visiting programs and up to 25% for targeted programs.
  • Child Care Assistance Program: We support reforms to CCAP that will create greater stability for homeless families, eliminate barriers that disrupt access to child care, and support rate updates for providers who are currently taking CCAP families at a financial loss. These reforms are found in the House, Senate, and Governor’s proposals in different combinations. We encourage lawmakers to build on the Senate language, adopting the House position to temporarily waive activity requirements for homeless families so that vulnerable children can access enriching care while families become stable. We also encourage lawmakers to adopt the House position to improve how funds for the provider reimbursement rate update are allocated to counties. New federal funds are available to enact these needed reforms. To fund them sufficiently we urge lawmakers to include a state investment.
  • DEED Grants to stabilize early childhood care and education workforce: We support child care grants of $750K to help local communities to increase the supply of quality child care providers in order to support economic development (currently included in House language).

We support the following Governor’s recommendations:

  • The Governor recommends expanding access to Early Learning Scholarships to children from low-income families who are 3 years old or younger.
  • The Governor recommends increasing investments in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to support family stability and improve the school readiness of children served in child care settings across the state. It allows families to maintain eligibility for 12-month period, makes child care available to more homeless children and ensures children are cared for in a safe, nurturing environment. ($17 million total by FY 2021)

As we move to the end of session, and important priorities are weighed, let’s make sure that our youngest and most vulnerable children are at the top of the priority list. This is the best way to make sure our state provides the best standard of living for all our residents and that all our children have the chance to succeed.

Sincerely,

Denise Mayotte

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Executive Director, Sheltering Arms Foundation

612-871-9210, dmayotte@sheltering-arms.org

MinneMinds Response to OLA Report on Early Childhood Education

MinneMinds Response to OLA Report on Early Childhood Education

The MinneMinds early childhood coalition is in agreement with many of the findings and recommendations from the Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) report on Early Childhood Education. The report outlines the strengths of early childhood care and education in Minnesota as well as areas that are in need of improvement, increased transparency, and focused attention.

We support the OLA recommendation to assess children to determine their school readiness as they enter kindergarten. An important next step would be to support the statewide expansion, implementation and funding of a culturally and linguistically relevant Kindergarten Entry Profile via approved assessment tools. This assessment would give teachers a better understanding of the diverse needs of Minnesota’s students, and would provide much needed data on how to adequately and accurately address the different needs of our students across the state.

The OLA report also recommends increased collaboration and data sharing between the agencies overseeing early childhood care in Minnesota to better understand the efficacy of these programs. Further collaboration should be encouraged if we are to have the best understanding of the current landscape of early childhood care and education that we need in Minnesota. We agree with report findings that indicate a lack of available data that makes it difficult to measure outcomes and effectiveness for children in early childhood programs. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge there is also extensive research and data showing the effectiveness and positive outcomes of multiple Minnesota early childhood programs.

High-quality, three and four star Parent Aware rated Programs like Joyce Preschool, Invest Early, The White Earth Child Care Program, PlayHouse Childcare Center, Minneapolis YWCA, Northside Achievement Zone, Promise Neighborhood, People Serving People among others, are making great progress every day in reducing opportunity gaps. These are programs that have  data clearly demonstrating they substantially increased Kindergarten readiness in their communities. Some of those programs are highlighted at http://minneminds.org/category/success-stories/.

Though the report found some overlap between students who receive scholarships and CCAP, it makes clear that even together these streams were not enough to fully cover the cost of early care and education. Additionally, we agree with the need to streamline eligibility criteria to ease the burden on families. Together with the report’s findings on waiting lists, it’s clear that there is a major need for more resources for families and children to access high-quality care and education. Let us not forget that Minnesota still faces some of our nation’s largest opportunity gaps, and 35,000 children in our state still lack access to high-quality, early childhood care and education.

MinneMinds shares the goals of creating a statewide infrastructure of high-quality early childhood care and education opportunities for Minnesota’s children and families. This report provides an overview of where we are and of where improvements may be needed. We hope legislators will urgently focus on positive steps forward, building on our successes, and committing to getting this right. Our children and our state’s future depend on it.

Advocacy for Children Day

Hundreds of advocates to rally in support of early childhood care and education

WHO:
MinneMinds, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minnesota’s Future, early learning advocates, educators, parents, children, legislators, and community members.WHAT:
St. Paul, Minn. – Join hundreds of early childhood learning advocates, parents, and children from across the state on March 29th, as they stand up and encourage legislators to support Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children at Advocacy for Children Day. Advocates will remind lawmakers that high quality early childhood care and education is the best way to close one of the worst in the nation opportunity gaps.

Over 35,000 children in the state of Minnesota still don’t have access to quality early care and education. This day is an opportunity for parents, teachers, early care and education professionals, and others from across the state to stand up and raise their voices for children, and to make sure early childhood care and education is a priority in policy discussions and legislation.

Several legislators from both parties will attend and read books to children at the Rotunda before the rally.

Agenda:
9:00-9:30 am: Children’s Entertainment
9:30-10:00 am: Children “story time” & fun activities
10:00-11:00 am: Rally in the Capitol Rotunda
11:00-4:00 pm: Visit with Legislators

Featured Speakers:
Senator Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids)
Senator Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis)
Representative Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls)
Representative Erin Maye Quade (DFL-Apple Valley)
Minnesota Children’s Cabinet Executive Director Kelly Monson

Where:
Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda
75 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55155

When:
Thursday, March 29
9:30-11:30 am.

About MinneMinds
MinneMinds is a broad coalition of over 100 statewide organizations, foundations, and advocacy groups united in prioritizing Minnesota’s youngest children as the most pressing need and important investment for Minnesota. We are supported by advocates, parents, early-ed and care leaders, teachers, businesses, community members in making this possible for every child in Minnesota regardless of zip code.

We share a vision where all children in Minnesota are ready for kindergarten by providing equitable access to high quality, culturally competent, year-round, all day early childhood programs that support the needs of both families and children from prenatal to age 5. Learn more at www.minneminds.org

About Greater Twin Cities United Way
Ranked as Minnesota’s largest nongovernmental social services funder, United Way connects people and resources within our community to challenge and change systems—like Minnesota’s education and jobs gap—that limit our potential. Our mission is to unite caring people to build pathways out of poverty, thereby improving individual lives and the community. Learn more at https://www.gtcuw.org/ and about our 24-hour, statewide, multilingual information and referral service, United Way 2-1-1 at http://www.211unitedway.org/. Greater Twin Cities United Way serves Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott and western Washington counties. For more information call (612) 340-7400.

Advocacy for Children Day is possible thanks to the partnership with
Minnesota’s Future Allies: 

Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC) & Minnesota School Age Care Alliance (MnSACA)
Minnesota Association for Family and Early Education (MNAFEE)
Minnesota Child Care Association (MCCA)
Think Small
Child Care Aware of Minnesota
Minnesota Coalition for Targeted Home Visiting
Minnesota Community Education Association (MCEA)
Minnesota Head Start Association
Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association (MLFCCA)

Contact: Alberto Monserrate, 612-730-2071
Email: alberto@newpublica.com

Community Conversation on Early Childhood with GOP Gubernatorial Candidates

Minneapolis. – Minnesota has made considerable progress investing in our state’s earliest learners, but much work remains. Looking ahead, a new governor in 2018 will play a pivotal role in deciding the direction and importance of early childhood care and education in Minnesota.

MinneMinds is sponsoring a second community conversation hosted by People Serving People with Republican gubernatorial candidates focused on early childhood issues facing Minnesota. The conversation will focus on ensuring Minnesota’s early childhood care and education opportunities are high-quality, multi-generational, equitable, culturally relevant, and accessible for children and families with the highest needs. Additional discussion will focus on the unique early childcare issues related to workforce and economic development.

Announced GOP Candidates Invited:
State Representative Matt Dean (Confirmed)
Former Chairman of the MN Republican Party Keith Downey
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (Confirmed)
State Senator David Osmek
Former Navy Research Intelligence Officer Phillip Parrish (Confirmed)
Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens

Where: 
People Serving People – Center of Excellence
2400 Park Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

When:
Wednesday, December 6
4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Hosted By:
People Serving People

In Partnership with:
Child Care Aware of Minnesota, Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota, Children’s Minnesota, First Children’s Finance, Generation Next, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Growth & Justice, Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, Joyce Preschool, Kids at Risk Action, Minnesota Child Care Association, Minnesota Coalition for Targeted Home Visiting, MnAEYC-MnSACA, Northside Achievement Zone, People Serving People, Safe Passage for Children, The Sheltering Arms Foundation, Start Early Funders Coalition, Think Small, YWCA of Minneapolis

About the MinneMinds Coalition
MinneMinds is supported by a broad base of nearly 100 statewide organizations and thought leaders with a common commitment to prioritizing Minnesota’s youngest children as the most pressing need and important investment for Minnesota. For more information visit www.MinneMinds.com.

About People Serving People
People Serving People is the region’s largest and most comprehensive family-focused homeless shelter. People Serving People helps homeless and at-risk children and their families manage crisis situations and build a strong foundation for their long-term success. For more information visit: www.peopleservingpeople.org.

Minnesota’s Future for Early Childhood

DFL gubernatorial candidates to outline their vision for early care and education

Minneapolis. – Minnesota’s next governor will play a pivotal role in determining the future of early childhood care and education in our state. While significant progress has been made in investing in our children, more work must be done to provide access for our highest need children.

MinneMinds is sponsoring a community conversation hosted by People Serving People with DFL candidates for governor to lay out their vision for early childhood care and education in Minnesota. This important conversation will focus on the pressing early childhood issues facing our state and in providing access to high-quality, equitable early childcare and education.

A second gubernatorial forum featuring Republican candidates for governor will be held on Wednesday, November 15.

Announced DFL Candidates Invited:
Mayor Chris Coleman (Confirmed)             State Auditor Rebecca Otto
Representative Tina Liebling                      Representative Paul Thissen
Representative Erin Murphy                       Congressman Tim Walz (Confirmed)

Where: 
People Serving People – Center of Excellence
2400 Park Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

When:
Thursday, October 19
4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Hosted By:
People Serving People

In Partnership with:
Child Care Aware of Minnesota, Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota, Children’s Hospitals, First Children’s Finance, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Growth & Justice, Indian Women’s Resource Center, Joyce Preschool, Kids at Risk Action, Minnesota Child Care Association, MnAEYC-MnSACA, Northside Achievement Zone, People Serving People, Safe Passage for Children, The Sheltering Arms Foundation, Start Early Funders Coalition, Think Small, YWCA of Minneapolis

About the MinneMinds Coalition
MinneMinds is supported by a broad base of nearly 100 statewide organizations and thought leaders with a common commitment to prioritizing Minnesota’s youngest children as the most pressing need and important investment for Minnesota. For more information visit www.MinneMinds.com.

About People Serving People
People Serving People is the region’s largest and most comprehensive family-focused homeless shelter. People Serving People helps homeless and at-risk children and their families manage crisis situations and build a strong foundation for their long-term success. For more information visit: www.peopleservingpeople.org.

End of Special Session Update

Today, the families of 40,000 Minnesota children under age five cannot afford quality early care and education. Thanks to bipartisan compromise and the leadership of our governor and legislative leaders, thousands of Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children may now have access to early childhood programs.

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank Governor Dayton, House Speaker Daudt and  Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, for their leadership and advocacy for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. We also want to give a special recognition and thanks to Education Finance Committee Chairs Sen. Carla Nelson and Rep. Jennifer Loon for their hard work and strong commitment on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging during this year’s budget negotiations.

Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature reached a historic agreement two years ago that allocated an additional $100 million for the biennium to fund early childhood education. History would be made again this session with close $100 Million in new money allocated in the next biennium to early childhood programs. That investment aligns closely with our coalition’s 2017 legislative agenda.

This increase in resources for our youngest would include over $20 million for early childhood scholarships and $50 million for School Readiness Plus. In addition to the increases in investments in education, the Health and Human Services bill would add $12 million for evidence based targeted home visiting for the next biennium and $33 Million for the following biennium. We thank Health and Human Services Chair Michelle Benson and Rep Ron Kresha for their leadership on helping increase access to targeted home visiting.

In addition, state leaders agreed to family friendly changes with more than $19 million in investment to make the Child Care Assistance Program work better and conform with federal standards. The Child and Dependent Care Credit would be expanded and increased, which means many more low- and middle-income families would be able to access the credit.

Close to $3 million in new money would be allocated for Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), $ 2.6 million to Reading Corp, $1 Million for Foster Kids Educational Stability, and $1.1 Million for the Parent-Child Home Program. Total funding for these programs would represent an increase of close to 25% from their projected budget for the biennium. We thank our state’s leaders for putting the needs of children first, by reaching a bipartisan compromise.

Because of this compromise, over 4,000 children would now have access to early childhood programs. The budget agreement would lead towards an increase in quality and better parent engagement. Early childhood care and education would move towards a more flexible, mixed delivery model that meets both community and family needs, while targeting resources to the children that need them the most.

We are particularly grateful for the bill’s prioritization of scholarships to children from birth to 5 that are homeless, in foster care, or in need of child protective services, or have a parent under age 21 who is pursuing a high school diploma or a high school equivalency test.

Minnesota currently has one of the worst education opportunity gaps in our nation. The good news is that we know how to substantially reduce the opportunity gap by investing in quality early childhood care and education. Extensive research indicates that use of public dollars for quality early childhood programs yields one of the highest returns on investment. There is much more to do next session to dramatically increase access to the families that can’t currently afford quality, all day, year round, parent directed quality early care and education. However, this past session has seen a substantial move in the right direction.

We hope that this bipartisan leadership will continue into the next year. Our youngest and most vulnerable are facing many challenges, and we must act boldly when we see an opportunity for consensus.