The early childhood movement has come a long way in the past twenty years, and has a long way to go.
The public now understands the importance of early care and education both for a child’s educational success and to assure a future skilled, prosperous workforce. It now understands that public investment in quality early learning is a valid and important policy priority. A majority of people polled are even willing to pay higher taxes, if the taxes are used to improve early learning.
Quality early learning is vastly under-resourced; there is far too little money in the system to provide parents the choices they deserve or maintain the quality workforce our children need. As a result, far too many of our youngest children are being cheated, pure and simple.
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
This month marks one year since the start of the Think Small blog. To celebrate, we’re using January to highlight information and initiatives from Think Small and our partners about infants and toddlers and their caregivers in Minnesota. This post is part of our series on children 0-3.
By: Representative Dave Pinto, District 64B
Since the very beginning, my top priority as a legislator has been to make sure that every child in Minnesota gets off to a great start. The disparities that our state sees in education, economics, health, and the criminal justice system – some of the worst in the nation – are paralleled by disparities that begin with prenatal care and continue from birth and beyond.
The April edition of Minnesota’s Future Policy Hour featured leaders from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) discussing Minnesota’s response to the federal reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program. In order to comply with federal changes to the program, the state must make changes to current law.
Minnesota is grappling with a tough question: How do we best improve the early learning landscape in our state?
It’s important to note that this question presumes an acceptance of the importance of early learning opportunities. We are fortunate to be having this conversation, and it’s an enormous opportunity to make a difference for our state, economy, and future.
Think Small is dedicated to continue improving the early learning landscape across Minnesota, impacting the lives of children and the future of our state and starting with the children who need our help the most. Children from low-income families face the steepest obstacles to success. Nearly 50 percent of children in Minnesota begin kindergarten not fully prepared with the necessary skills to succeed in school. We know many of these children are from low-income families and often never catch up to their more well off peers.