A Legislative Update: Early Learning a Policy Priority for State

It is great that early learning is a policy priority for the state, and it’s encouraging to hear it continue to be discussed. In a year of $1.6 billion surplus, it would also be great to see large investments in Minnesota’s youngest children.

Early Learning continues to be an important issue that Minnesota legislators are talking about. The House, Senate, and Governor have all proposed additional funds for early education, although they differ widely on how much to spend and in what way. Representatives and senators just finished their work to come up with joint budget bills. These still have to pass out of both bodies and be signed by the Governor to become law.

Two weeks before the end of the regular session, here’s an update on the status of Think Small’s policy priorities.

Increase the number of Parent Aware rated programs and allow programs to maintain or improve their Parent Aware ratings

The Education bill allows all Parent Aware rated program (1-4 Stars) to be eligible to accept Early Learning Scholarships until 2022. After 2022, Early Learning Scholarships will only be able to be used by families at 3 and 4 star Parent Aware rated programs.  This could encourage more providers to earn a new rating or improve their current rating. The Department of Human Services will continue to fund statewide implementation of Parent Aware. Continue reading A Legislative Update: Early Learning a Policy Priority for State

Celebrate Think Small Day with us!

itstartedwithabus-18x24Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed today Think Small Day in Minnesota in honor of our 45th Anniversary. Now that’s something to celebrate! 

It all started with a bus. As more women entered the workforce, families needed quality child care for their families. We started by creating a mobile toy lending library that visited family child care homes. While children enjoyed supervised play on the bus, providers participated in training sessions aimed at improving the quality of care.

Continue reading Celebrate Think Small Day with us!

2016 Legislative Session Overview: Early Care and Education Key Priority in Minnesota

MN capitolGovernor Dayton signed the supplemental budget bill today, allocating $182 million in funding this year and $300 million of funding over the next two years. He is still reviewing the tax bill and determining whether to call a special session to deal with the transportation and bonding bills. While not all of Think Small’s policy priorities were successful, early learning was once again one of the main points of discussion. We hope this sets the stage for good conversations on the campaign trail this summer and fall regarding access to high-quality early learning opportunities based on the needs and choices of families.

Below is a list of efforts that did and did not pass, along with a more detailed description of the Voluntary Pre-K Program.

Continue reading 2016 Legislative Session Overview: Early Care and Education Key Priority in Minnesota