Letter to Conferees – 2019

Health and Human Services Conferee Letter

May 2, 2019

Dear Health and Human Services Conference Committee Members:

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

We must take bold action to address Minnesota’s opportunity gaps, which are among the worst in the nation. To close this gap, we need investments in early care and education from birth to 5 years old. This legislative session we have a unique opportunity to create bipartisan compromises that will significantly reduce opportunity gaps, create jobs, and contribute to the economic vitality of our state for years to come.

We would like to highlight items that the MinneMinds Coalition strongly supports from the House and Senate Omnibus bills, along with changes that we believe would improve the bills:

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. Child care assistance is a critical economic development tool for Minnesota businesses to have a reliable workforce. We need structural improvements to CCAP and they must come alongside protecting and expanding child care access so that all eligible children receive services. The 30,000 children served by CCAP and the thousands more who are left on waiting lists are the reasons why we must ensure that CCAP dollars go to children and families.

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 equips parents with parenting and family support tools to create an environment conducive to their child’s optimal learning and development. We support language that codifies home visiting for pregnant women and families with young children, increasing flexibility in types of programs funded and expands funding.

Again, thank you for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children and for your work to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gaps. 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,

Acooa Ellis Co-Chair MinneMinds Coalition Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Ann Mulholland Co-Chair MinneMinds Coalition Executive Vice President, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations

Education Conference Committee Conferee Letter

May 2, 2019

Dear Education Conference Committee Members:

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

We must take bold action to address Minnesota’s opportunity gaps, which are among the worst in the nation. To close this gap, we need investments in early care and education from birth to 5 years old. This legislative session we have a unique opportunity to create bipartisan compromises that will significantly reduce opportunity gaps, create jobs, and contribute to the economic vitality of our state for years to come.

Below are highlighted items that the MinneMinds Coalition supports from the House and Senate Omnibus bills, along with changes that we believe would improve the bills:

MinneMinds appreciates the increase in funding for early learning scholarships. Increased access to scholarships is essential to closing opportunity gaps. Close to 33,000 children do not have access to much-needed quality early childhood care and education. Research shows that early investments are the most effective and provide the highest return on investment. We ask you to significantly increase this investment to serve more of our most vulnerable children.

MinneMinds supports the inclusion and flexibility offered by leveraging both parentdirected Pathway I and program-based Pathway II early learning scholarships.

○ We support the inclusion of both Pathway I and Pathway II scholarships, acknowledging the shortage of early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs across Minnesota.

○ We support the flexibility both Pathways provide but are concerned that the House bill does not include a specific allocation of funding for each Pathway. We oppose that this be solely determined at the discretion of the Commissioner.

○ We oppose any elimination of new Pathway I scholarships for 4-year-olds that meet the income requirements in the House bill. Reducing access for those that need it will negatively impact kindergarten readiness.

○ We are concerned about the continued spending limits imposed on the Pathway II scholarships in the Senate bill. We support making improvements to this program but believe these scholarships are an important option for eligible children and families. Pathway II scholarships enable high-quality, mixed delivery programs across the state to provide effective early care and education that meet local needs.

○ We oppose any elimination of new Pathway I scholarships for 4-year-olds that meet the income requirements in the House bill. Reducing access for those that need it will negatively impact kindergarten readiness.

○ We are concerned about the continued spending limits imposed on the Pathway II scholarships in the Senate bill. We support making improvements to this program but believe these scholarships are an important option for eligible children and families. Pathway II scholarships enable high-quality, mixed delivery programs across the state to provide effective early care and education that meet local needs.

MinneMinds appreciates the investments in Parent Aware and kindergarten entry assessments. Both Parent Aware and kindergarten assessments will help Minnesotans understand which programs are the most effective at preparing our youngest learners for success in kindergarten and beyond. Parent Aware supports the expansion of highquality early learning programs throughout Minnesota.

Again, thank you for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children, as well as your efforts 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,

Acooa Ellis Co-Chair, MinneMinds Coalition Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Ann Mulholland Co-Chair, MinneMinds Coalition Executive Vice President, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations