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:
- 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,
- Children that are in foster care or otherwise in need of protection or services
- 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.
Chair, MinneMinds Coalition
Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way