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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.

Tomorrow: Advocacy for Children Day at Capitol & MinneMinds Bill Introduction

Early learning advocates to rally in Rotunda on behalf of Minnesota’s youngest children & MinneMinds coalition will announce support for a bipartisan early childhood bill

WHO:
MinneMindsGreater Twin Cities United WayMinnesota’s Futureearly learning advocates, educators, parents, children, legislators, and community members.

WHAT:
Rally in the State Capitol Rotunda to advocate for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. With an estimated 10,000 Minnesota children annually born into poverty, they are at risk of not having a strong foundation for lifelong development.

Event organizers say there is growing bipartisan support for more resources for quality early care and education along with voluntary, targeted home visiting. They point to these as proven methods of ensuring a better future for the state’s youth and the state. They further state their goals are to eliminate Minnesota’s education opportunity gap and for increased investments in early childhood development for at-risk children, ages prenatal to 5. The MinneMinds coalition will also announce support for a bipartisan early childhood bill tomorrow.

Among the scheduled speakers are state Sen. Carla Nelson; state Rep.  Ron Kresha; and Greater Twin Cities United Way President and CEO Sarah Caruso. Their remarks, along with other state leaders and advocates, will focus on the need to reach consensus on increasing access to quality early childhood care and education for low-income children. Several legislators from both parties will attend and read books to children at the Rotunda before the rally.

WHEN:
Thursday, March 2, 2017
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

WHERE:
Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55155

With supports, the impact of high-quality preschool does not fade out

Letters to the Editor February 23

The analysis by Drew Bailey, Greg Duncan and Candice Odgers struggled to thoroughly frame the issue. The writers noted that basic math and reading skills, while easy to test, are not the only measures of current knowledge or future success. Accordingly, we maintain that the long-term effects mentioned in the article, high school graduation, higher earnings, fewer arrests and healthier lifestyles, are related to one skill: executive function.

Executive function helps children persevere through adversity, turn basic skills into advanced comprehension and develop into self-regulating, successful citizens. These skills, which children learn in high-quality preschools, have a significant positive effect on life outcomes.

Further, not all gains fade. The Head Start Impact Study found effects did not fade among groups of children most at risk. In a 2010 research paper, Rucker C. Johnson found that fadeout happens when children move into low-performing K-12 schools, but not when they proceed to high-performing schools. Head Start also focuses on children and their families, addressing those “persistent environmental factors” often found in the home.

Fadeout is a myth based on a narrow methodology and scope. The effects of high-quality early learning, especially those with comprehensive, two-generation supports, last a lifetime.

Read full article

What kind of early-education help do low-income parents want?

By Sondra Samuels and Barb Fabre | 01/30/17

There is strong bipartisan agreement about the need to help young Minnesota children living in low-income families access high-quality early-education programs so that we can close our worst-in-the-nation opportunity gap in education. While there is an amazing amount of consensus about that overall need, policymakers are still discussing the type of help that is needed.

So here’s a radical idea: How about we listen to the people who can benefit the most from getting engaged in early education: low-income parents?

In the fall of 2016, Wilder Foundation researchers did exactly that. Using funding from the nonprofit organization Close Gaps by 5, Wilder conducted phone interviews of 240 low-income parents from all parts of Minnesota. About 46 percent of those interviewed were parents of color. Here is what those parents said.

Parents’ top priorities

When asked “which early education program features sticks in your mind as the single most important for you and your family?” two items rose to the top. The first most important feature parents named was full-day, full-year, multi-year services. The second was quality of care, in terms of a program’s ability to prepare children for kindergarten.

This is encouraging news, because the same features that parents want are, according to the best available research, also the things that children need to get ready for kindergarten.

Fortunately, Minnesota’s 9-year-old Early Learning Scholarship program delivers on both fronts

Read Full article..

MinneMinds coalition responds to Governors budget on early childhood

Yesterday, Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget that included early childhood development as a top priority. MinneMinds applauds the Governor’s continued leadership on behalf of Minnesota’s children. We agree with the governor that: “In addition to our moral responsibility to ensure that every child receives a world-class education, there is another important reason to make these additional investments. Because our future depends upon them.”

In particular we are very encouraged to see that increased investments in home visiting and the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) are in his budget. As mentioned in the Governor’s report, home visiting helps families of at-risk children develop the skills needed to care for their child. Additionally, by increasing CCAP reimbursement rates, our most at-risk families will have increased access to early care and education options. We are also pleased that Governor Dayton expanded that use of scholarships to children aged 0-5, which has been a long-standing goal of our coalition. But we would take the step further and expand the dollars available as well, so that more children can receive the flexible funding that will help them succeed.

We believe this budget is a positive step towards putting our most at-risk children first; MinneMinds is committed to working together with the Governor on advancing these key priorities.

MinneMinds is a broad, statewide coalition, operating on the common goals we share of equitable access to high quality, mixed delivery, accessible and culturally competent early childhood care and education. The needs of Minnesota’s children should be met from pre-natal to age 5 with multi-generational solutions. Home visits, high quality child care and early education provide a pathway to racial, economic and geographic equity. Our coalition supports legislation that fully funds Parent Aware, Minnesota’s quality-rating improvement system, and expands Early Learning Scholarships for children from 0-4. With more than 40,000 children from birth to five still unable to access high quality early childhood development programs, we most move urgently to support children that need our help the most.

Guest Opinion: Early learning scholarships bridge the urban-rural divide

Much has been said and written lately about a rural-urban divide in America. It’s increasingly apparent that sound public policy has to help families in communities of every description—urban, suburban, exurban, and rural. Minnesota’s Early Learning Scholarships is exactly that kind of policy.

Scholarships address an urgent problem that schools and communities are facing in every corner of the state. Nearly half of Minnesota’s children are arriving in kindergarten unprepared. Too many kids never catch up and eventually drop out of school. Dropouts earn less and generate higher taxpayer costs throughout their lifetime. That’s a huge problem for all of us. Minnesota needs an educated workforce to compete in the global economy. An educated workforce makes for healthy, prosperous communities.

High quality early childcare and early education is the way to get kids ready to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. But for too many Minnesota kids, these programs are out of reach. Tragically, about 40,000 low-income Minnesota children under five years old are unable to access the quality early learning programs they need to get prepared for school and life.

These at-risk children are in every community in Minnesota. About half of sholarship-eligible low-income children are in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, and half are in greater Minnesota.

But how can one policy solution work as well in Minneapolis, Mankato and Motley? After all, some Minnesota communities have many different choices available for childcare and early learning programs, and others have few to choose from.

Read full article..