The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what these policies look like in action and how they impact Minnesota children and families.
By Jon Losness and Sara Stebbins
For over 40 years, Families First of Minnesota (formally Child Care Resource and Referral) has been a non-profit organization in our community working as a resource for parents, child care programs, and community members in all areas of early childhood. Our programs reach families in 20 southern counties across the state, as well as greater Minnesota in the case of Early Learning Scholarships.
We help ensure positive beginnings for all young children and their families by offering the following programs in the Rochester area and beyond:
- Child Care Aware (20 counties)
- Crisis Nursery (Olmsted County)
- Early Head Start (Olmsted, Freeborn, also with Semcac and Three River partnerships in Rice and Winona)
- Early Learning Scholarships (28 counties)
- Head Start (Olmsted, Freeborn)
- School Readiness (Rochester)
Families First’s role in Early Learning Scholarships is that of Area Administrator in which we administer services that meet the grant requirements under an obligation to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). This current fiscal year we are working with an awarded amount of $7.3 million. This means we award and manage scholarships to qualifying families in 4 Regional Areas making up 28 Minnesota counties, with 2 of these areas being newly added this fiscal period: Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Winona, Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, Watonwan, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Pine, Carver, Dakota and Scott. Currently, we are serving almost 1000 children in these areas.