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.
Legislative Task Force on Child Care Access and Affordability
Senator Melissa Wiklund, DFL-Bloomington, was one of the presenters at the February Policy Hour organized by Minnesota’s Future and hosted by Think Small. Sen. Wiklund talked about a report by the Legislative Task Force on Child Care Access and Affordability.
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 Minnesota’s Future June Policy Hour reviewed the 2016 legislative session, combing through a list of proposals that passed, did not pass, and some that still may pass if a special session is called. On hand to explain the information were Ann McCully, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of Minnesota, Valerie Dosland, lobbyist at Ewald Consulting, and Ben Horowitz, Policy Advocate at the Minnesota Budget Project.
In print and social media, Parent Aware has been a hot topic in the past couple of weeks. Parent Aware is Minnesota’s early education Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). This system supports child care providers to demonstrate and improve the quality of their services. It provides parents with a way to select a child care program in their area that meets the needs of their family.
By: Nancy Jost, Early Childhood Coordinator for West Central Initiative
Remember the last time you bought a car? I’m guessing you started by thinking about what is best for you and your family. Perhaps you thought about a large vehicle for hauling the soccer team to tournaments, or a small, efficient car for taking the family on road trips. After listing your priorities, maybe you searched for online reviews of vehicles that met your needs. You likely read consumer reviews and picked up an auto magazine.
A group of high ranking military generals residing in Minnesota sent a letter to legislators encouraging them to invest in Parent Aware, Minnesota’s quality rating system for all early learning programs. Their letter states:
We must close gaps first by supporting early learning programs already in place to reach our most at risk children. Child Care is an essential and large piece of this puzzle, providing quality early learning opportunities across Minnesota that focus on getting the whole child ready to succeed.
By: Ericca Maas, Executive Director of Parent Aware for School Readiness
When it comes to early learning, I’ve never met an early educator who didn’t want the best for the kids they serve. They have the will, but they don’t always know the way. Naturally, even highly skilled and experienced early educators simply can’t find time to continually track the latest child development research, so they don’t know precisely which best practices to use, and how best to use them. That’s why Minnesota needs to invest in making the Parent Aware Ratings as strong as possible.