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.
Chair, MinneMinds Coalition
Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way