Early Learning Investment – Turn Up the Volume!

By Todd Otis

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.

Todd Otis

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.

At the very time when young families have the least amount of money, they are forced to pay $10-12,000 directly out of their pockets per child, and many families simply do not have that kind of money. Whereas at least 75% of K-12 education (public and private) is paid for by public sources and 25% by families, those numbers are reversed for early care and education. Most families simply cannot afford to pay for the quality early learning their kids deserve. Continue reading Early Learning Investment – Turn Up the Volume!

Policy Hour: Reports Propose Solutions for Early Learning in Minnesota

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.

Senator Wiklund presents at February Policy Hour.

Before creating the report, she explained that the committee met to discuss various issues around child care. They learned about the child care shortage in Greater Minnesota and heard from the Department of Human Services regarding changes to federal law that impact Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). They also heard from organization leaders, parents, and providers who shared their thoughts on what works and does not work for child care in Minnesota. Continue reading Policy Hour: Reports Propose Solutions for Early Learning in Minnesota

Minnesota Early Learning Organizations Present Policy Agendas at January Policy Hour

The 2017 Minnesota Legislative Session is underway! January Policy Hour brought us up to speed on the policy priorities of the organizations in the Minnesota’s Future coalition and the Voices and Choices for Children Coalition. Below is a brief overview of each organization’s platform, along with links to more in-depth explanations where available. Continue reading Minnesota Early Learning Organizations Present Policy Agendas at January Policy Hour

Prenatal to Three Policy Forums: Working Together for A Great Start

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

Representative Dave Pinto

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.

Continue reading Prenatal to Three Policy Forums: Working Together for A Great Start

Policy Hour Breaks Down End of Legislative Session

June Policy Hour 2016 3[1]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.

Continue reading Policy Hour Breaks Down End of Legislative Session

What are People Saying About Parent Aware?

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.

Continue reading What are People Saying About Parent Aware?

From Cars to Early Care and Education: Getting the Data We Need to Make the Best Decisions

Nancy Jost 2014By: 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.

Continue reading From Cars to Early Care and Education: Getting the Data We Need to Make the Best Decisions

Army Generals Urge Minnesota Legislature to Support Parent Aware

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: 

Continue reading Army Generals Urge Minnesota Legislature to Support Parent Aware

County by County, Here’s What Child Care Looks Like Across Minnesota

preschool-girl-learning-1251296We 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.

Continue reading County by County, Here’s What Child Care Looks Like Across Minnesota

Modest Investment in Parent Aware Yields Big Benefits for Kids

Ericca_Maas_Bio_PhotoBy: 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.

Continue reading Modest Investment in Parent Aware Yields Big Benefits for Kids