Child Care and Public Policy

Minnesota is once again surveying all licensed child care providers to collect important information that influences statewide policies and program supports, including child care assistance rates.

New This Year: Parent Aware has launched a new, online Update Tool — the fastest and easiest way for providers to complete the Provider Business Update and update their public ParentAware.org profile.

Gift Card Drawing: Providers that complete the Business Update now through March 31, 2018, will be eligible to win a $50 gift card. Providers can also call 888-291-9811 to complete the survey by phone, have a printed version mailed to them, or request translation support.

Visit the Parent Aware website for more information.

The Bill Tracker (formerly provided by Child Care WORKS) provides progress updates on bills currently moving through the Minnesota Legislature related to early care and education and school-age care issues. Issues include the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Early Learning Scholarships, and licensing and program regulations.

The latest Bill Tracker and Legislative Update will reflect activity through each Friday and be posted online the following Tuesday through the end of the Legislative session.* You can also download versions from previous weeks. If you have questions or would like to suggest additions, please contact Ann McCully at: AnnM@childcareawaremn.org.

Download the Final Bill Tracker: June 16, 2015 (PDF)

Download the Final Legislative Update: June 16, 2015 (PDF)

Previous Weeks

Bill Tracker 5-19-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 5-19-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 5-12-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 5-12-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 5-5-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 5-5-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 4-28-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 4-28-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 4-21-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 4-21-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 4-14-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 4-14-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 3-31-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 3-31-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 3-24-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 3-24-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 3-17-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 3-17-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 3-10-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 3-10-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 3-3-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 3-3-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 2-24-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 2-24-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 2-17-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 2-17-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 1-27-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 1-27-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 1-20-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 1-20-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 2-3-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 2-3-15 (PDF)

Bill Tracker 2-10-15 (PDF)
Legislative Update 2-10-15 (PDF)

On November 17, President Obama signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 into law. This is the first time the child care program has been reauthorized since 1996.

The CCDBG is the primary federal grant program that provides child care assistance for families and funds child care quality initiatives. The CCDBG reauthorization includes measures to strengthen health and safety requirements in child care programs and providers, promote and improve the quality of care, and increase access to quality child care programs.

“It’s going to improve the quality of child care by requiring more training for caregivers and more enrichment for children,” President Obama said when signing the bill. “It’s going to improve child safety by instituting background checks for staff and better inspection of facilities.”

Ann McCully, executive director of Child Care Aware of Minnesota, serves on the Board of Directors of Child Care Aware® of America as the chair of the Public Policy Committee.

“This legislation sets a new ‘floor’ for important health and safety measures for child care programs nationwide,” McCully said. “It builds on the good work Minnesota has already done to recognize and sustain the type of quality care that makes a difference for our children’s school and life success.”

Child Care Aware® of America has compiled a large collection of helpful resources related to the CCDBG reauthorization on its website. The Office of Child Care (OCC) also has a dedicated CCDBG webpage, which includes FAQs and upcoming webinars for more information.

In Minnesota, the CCDBG reauthorization will also reinforce efforts already being made to give families better access to information about quality programs to help them make informed choices about high-quality care and early education. Those efforts can be seen in the recent launch of a new website – www.parentaware.org.

“What we have done in Minnesota to revise the Parent Aware website, including providing quality Rating information and linking parents to licensing records, puts us on the cutting edge of what will now become a nationwide effort to provide better and more transparent information for parents,” McCully said.

(ST. PAUL, MN) – Research continues to show that the earliest years of a child’s life, from birth to age 5, are critical to brain development. With many families depending on child care during these early years, the demand for Minnesota’s child care and early education professionals to demonstrate the quality of their services is growing.

The State recognizes the importance of quality care and has responded to growing demand with programs like Parent Aware Star Ratings, Minnesota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, the Minnesota Child Care Credential, and increased training requirements for licensed family child care providers.

Of course, care professionals need greater access to trainings inline with the latest research and best practices in order to expand their knowledge and skillsets to increase quality.

Enter Eager-to-Learn (ETL), a community-based e-learning program of Child Care Aware of Minnesota. ETL makes professional development trainings accessible to caregivers statewide, offering a wide range of online classes focusing on children from birth to age 12 that meet the State’s training requirements.

In July, ETL introduced a new training format called Anytime Learning. Anytime Learning online trainings are self-paced, interactive presentations designed to give students even greater flexibility. Learning checkpoints and quizzes throughout help students stay engaged and reinforce the information.

“Eager-to-Learn has always been dedicated to providing quality and convenient learning experiences,” said Cory Woosley, professional development director at Child Care Aware of Minnesota. “Anytime Learning takes convenience a step further without sacrificing quality.”

Participants are already seeing the benefits.

“It was nice to complete the training on my own time, at my own pace, and in the comfort of my own home,” said Melissa Terpstra, a family child care provider. “I feel that I learned more effectively in this online setting also. I will certainly be registering for more classes in the future.” 

Anytime Learning courses are now available online through Eager-to-Learn at www.eagertolearn.org. Anytime Learning courses meet different pre-service and in-service training requirements for family child care providers.

Posted: 10/1/13 - Isanti County News

The mission of Cambridge-Isanti District #911 Early Childhood and Family Programs is to provide comprehensive program offerings, services and resources which educate, support and strengthen families with children ages birth through kindergarten entrance.

During the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting Thursday, Nov. 15, the board heard a presentation from representatives of the C-I Early Childhood Programs.

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Posted 9/12/13 - St. Paul Pioneer Press

Minnesota continues to garner praise from national educators for increasing early education funding.

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, was the latest top education leader to stop in Minnesota to applaud lawmakers' decision to fund all-day kindergarten and other initiatives for young learners. Van Roekel's group represents 3.2 million educators nationwide and is the largest labor union in the U.S.

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Posted 9/10/13 - Faribault Daily News

The start of the 2013-2014 school year brings a whole new set of goals for Faribault Public Schools’ early childhood education programming at McKinley with community outreach, additional scholarships for low-income families and an effort to promote screening for 3-year-olds all on the list.

One of the major programming components at the McKinley Early Childhood Center pertains to family education, particularly for young parents and their little ones or parents expecting a child. The center offers health classes, family nights, a class for teen parents and another for Spanish-speaking families expecting a baby or with a child under a year of age.

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Posted: 9/9/13 - Minnesota Public Radio

A new study from the University of Minnesota finds students who struggle to understand basic number concepts in early grades continue to make uncommon mistakes in math later on.

"The nature of the errors that some of these children were making in 8th grade suggests some continued misconceptions about numbers," said Michele Mazzocco, the study's author and professor at the University of Minnesota's Institute for Child Development.

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Posted: 9/7/13 - Detroit Lakes Tribune

With another school year beginning, exciting things are in store for school cafeterias.

September is Farm to School Month in Minnesota, designed to highlight partnerships between school districts and local farmers that bring fresh, local food to K-12 students and children in childcare.

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With another school year beginning, exciting things are in store for school cafeterias.

Advertisement

September is Farm to School Month in Minnesota, designed to highlight partnerships between school districts and local farmers that bring fresh, local food to K-12 students and children in childcare.

- See more at: http://www.dl-online.com/content/mn-schools-set-expand-fresh-local-grown...

With another school year beginning, exciting things are in store for school cafeterias.

Advertisement

September is Farm to School Month in Minnesota, designed to highlight partnerships between school districts and local farmers that bring fresh, local food to K-12 students and children in childcare.

- See more at: http://www.dl-online.com/content/mn-schools-set-expand-fresh-local-grown...

September is Farm to School Month in Minnesota, designed to highlight partnerships between school districts and local farmers that bring fresh, local food to K-12 students and children in childcare. - See more at: http://www.dl-online.com/content/mn-schools-set-expand-fresh-local-grown...

Posted: 9/6/13 - Minneapolis Downtown Journal

Mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges has released her plan of attack to tackle the achievement gap in Minneapolis schools — an issue that has dominated debates and discussions on the campaign trail this year. 

Hodges' plan, "Ready, Willing and Able: Putting Children Front and Center in Education," highlights several startling statistics: barely half of Minneapolis students graduate in four years; black and Hispanic students graduate at a rate of 36.8 percent; American Indian students have a 25 percent high school graduation rate; and 69.8 percent of white students are graduating, compared to the state average of 89.3 percent.

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Posted: 9/4/13 - KSTP CH 5

Eight years after Hurricane Katrina, most states still don't require four basic safety plans to protect children in school and child care from disasters, aid group Save the Children said in a report released Wednesday.
    
The group faulted 28 states and the District of Columbia for failing to require the emergency safety plans for schools and child care providers that were recommended by a national commission in the wake of Katrina. The lack of such plans could endanger children's lives and make it harder for them to be reunited with their families, the study said.

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Posted 8/14/13 - St. Paul Pioneer Press

At the age of 4, children of the near-extinct Kawesqar tribe of Chilean Patagonia spear and roast their own shellfish. This is eight years earlier than when kids who vacation in Cape Cod, Mass., come of shellfish age -- that is, if the children's menus found in every clam shack in the area are anything to go by.

If a child is younger than 12, Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar will serve them a grilled cheese sandwich or a hot dog. But no clams.

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Posted 8/14/13 - MinnPost

Talk about grading on a curve. In the space of two years, Minnesota creates a statewide system for measuring quality in pre-K programs, a mechanism for steering its neediest kids toward the best and money to begin paying for it all, and advocates award it a B+?

On Monday, the business nonprofit that designed and piloted the systems and then pushed for their adoption issued its first report card [PDF]. Taking a card from the playbook of good educators everywhere, it heaped praise on effort expended but also made it clear policymakers will have to really, really stretch if they want an A.
 
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Posted 7/18/13 - Blaine-Spring Lake Park Sun Focus

Pledging federal support for early childhood education initiatives, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited a Bloomington summer school classroom and took part in an early learning forum July 16 as part of a Tuesday morning swing through Minnesota.

Duncan, who has been U.S. education secretary since 2009, praised Minnesota’s commitment to early childhood education. Flanked by Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, Duncan told a crowd of more than 200 gathered at a forum inside Bloomington Kennedy High School that “early childhood is an easy thing to cut back on.” In Minnesota, however, “year after year after year you have come back and funded education.”

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Posted 6/13/13 - Lindstrom-Chisago County Press

During the past school year, the Chisago Lakes Board of Education made a decision to support an investment in Community Education’s Little Wildcats Preschool program by providing a scholarship program, helping to prepare our youngest learners to be successful in Kindergarten. This spring, the Minnesota State Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton also recognized the importance of preparing our youngest learners and addressing the state’s daunting achievement gap as they made an investment of $46 million in quality pre-kindergarten early learning scholarships for Minnesota’s most vulnerable children.

These investments build on the research-based scholarship model developed by the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation which also forms the foundation of the state’s successful federal the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. The Legislature’s investment is part of an innovative approach to prepare more children for success in school by helping Minnesota’s youngest children access high quality early learning programs proven to improve school readiness outcomes. The new legislation aligns with outcomes that the Little Wildcats Preschool program has shown. The data we now have clearly indicates that students enrolled in our preschool program begin their kindergarten year ready to learn. The dollars that the legislature has committed will allow us to reach out to more Chisago Lakes Area families who might need assistance paying for the Little Wildcats Preschool fees or providing transportation to get their students to school. Both Taylors Falls Elementary and Primary School have Little Wildcats Preschool classes in both morning and afternoon sessions. As an added benefit to families, children attending Little Wildcats Preschool can now attend the Chisago Lakes Kids Club School Age Care program, which allows these preschoolers to be in school or childcare for a full school day every day! The Little Wildcats Preschool and Kids Club programs have earned ratings as “4 Star” Parent Aware Programs.

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Posted 5/29/13 - MinnPost

Gov. Mark Dayton, as expected, has signed the Child Care Collective Bargaining Act, which will allow child care providers who accept state subsidies to vote to join a union.

Just as expected, opponents are suing to stop implementation of the law, and a group called Childcare Freedom will discuss the lawsuit Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at the State Office Building. The group will bring child-care providers opposed to the law, and the attorney handling the case, Doug Seaton.

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Posted 5/28/13 - KLGR Redwood Falls

Children across the state will soon be on summer vacation. For the younger ones, that means a transition into a new child care or camp program or attending day care for the first time. To make that change go smoothly, preparation is the key to success, according to Karen Fogolin, associate director, Child Care Aware of Minnesota.

"The children are going to come across new people, new rules and perhaps even a bus for the first time, so helping them to adapt and thrive in the new situation is important," Fogolin said.

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Posted 5/26/13 - Moorhead Forum

Local aquatics directors say they’re used to hearing they’re “mean.”

No running. No horseplay. No diving. No water toys or flotation devices. No children under a certain age or height in deeper pools.

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Posted 5/27/13 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minnesota’s 2013 Legislature took important strides forward in education — especially for the state’s youngest students. Last week, legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton agreed to put $485 million in new funding into programs from preschool through 12th grade in the next two years.

A meaningful portion of that new spending will support early learning efforts and special education. That’s worth celebrating. Numerous studies have shown that high-quality preschool makes an enormous difference in student achievement. When children ages 3 to 6 establish a strong foundation for learning, they are more likely to do well throughout their school careers.

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Posted 5/26/13 - Minnesota Public Radio

Gov. Mark Dayton has signed into law a bill that allows government-subsidized in-home child care providers and personal care assistants to unionize. One of the main groups that opposed the legislation says it will likely file suit Wednesday.

The new state law conflicts with federal law that bars unionizing for business owners or employers, said Minnesota Majority president Dan McGrath.

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This document (formerly provided by Child Care WORKS) tracks the progress of bills related to early care and education that are moving through the Minnesota Legislature.  It will be updated and made available on a weekly basis during the 2013 Legislative session.

Bill Tracker updated 5-20-2013 (PDF)

Advocacy updated 5-20-2013 (PDF)

Posted 5/20/13 - Forest Lake Times

The Democratic-led Legislature approved its omnibus E-12 education finance and policy bill Sunday (May 19) that slates an additional $485 million to education.

“This is a very bold and ambitious plan,” House Education Finance Committee Chairman Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said.

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Posted 5/20/13 - Star Tribune

The 2013 Minnesota legislative session is likely to come to a tidy but surprising end.

In the wee hours on Monday, the Minnesota Senate unanimously passed a $132 million borrowing bill for Capitol restoration and a capitol area parking facility.  The Minnesota House has not adopted such a measure. Democratic and Republican leaders said they only learned about the borrowing plan as it was arising on the Senate floor.

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Posted 5/19/13 - St Cloud Times

Demonstrators clustered outside the Minnesota House chamber Saturday in anticipation of a vote that would let unions try to organize some child care and home care providers.

The controversial bill passed the Minnesota Senate on Wednesday after 17 hours of debate. Another protracted debate appeared likely in the House, where more than 100 proposed amendments were filed for the bill in advance of an expected debate Saturday night or early today.

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Posted 5/17/13 - Star Tribune

Federal health officials issued broad new standards Thursday to improve safety in the nation’s child-care facilities, triggered in part by news accounts of day-care deaths in Minnesota, Missouri and other states.

The proposals would apply to more than 500,000 child-care providers who receive federal subsidies, but are intended to raise minimum standards among all providers across the 50 states. Among the changes: better training to prevent infant sleep deaths, background checks on child-care workers and more tools to help parents identify subpar day cares.

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Posted 5/16/13 - KTTC (NBC)

Federal health officials proposed Thursday to overhaul 500,000 child care centers across the country, beefing up safety standards including background and fingerprint checks for employees and requiring states to better monitor the facilities.

Roughly 1.6 million U.S. children attend child care centers on subsidies - paid in the form of vouchers to families - from the federal government. But health, safety and program quality requirements for those facilities vary widely, and states monitor them through a patchwork of rules.

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Posted 5/13/13 - Start Tribune

A Capitol all-nighter over the right of 21,000 child-care providers and personal care attendants to unionize has emboldened the Legislature’s GOP minority and thrown a “firecracker” into the frenzied last days of the session.

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Posted 5/12/13 - St. Paul Pioneer Press

The 2013 labor wish list at the state Capitol includes a measure to allow some home-care workers to bargain collectively with the state. Those who care for young and vulnerable Minnesotans deserve our respect. It's important work they do, but union representation isn't a good idea for the workers or for those they care for. We join the skeptics who doubt the proposal will bring us closer to what we all want: good care for those who need it, a good deal for taxpayers and stable costs.

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Posted 5/6/13 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Opposition by two DFL senators sent a labor-backed bill to allow in-home care workers to join a union to a defeat in committee on Monday.

The bill, which applied to certain in-home child care workers and in-home personal care attendants, failed on an 11-11 vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

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Posted 5/5/13 - Brainerd Daily Dispatch

President Barack Obama says he's not sure whether he can get Congress to pass his plan to dramatically expand pre-kindergarten in the U.S.

He says it's difficult to pay for it and that quality control is a challenge.

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Posted 5/4/13 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Child-care providers are uniting across Minnesota to provide quality care that parents can afford. We provide safe and healthy learning environments for the children we care for. We want every resource at our disposal when caring for our children.

For those of us who care for kids on the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), we also want a voice at the table. A union would give us that voice.

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Posted 5/4/13 - Minnesota Public Radio

Legislation to allow for the unionization of in-home child care providers and personal care assistants cleared its final Minnesota House committee Thursday night, and is headed for a floor vote.

The Ways and Means Committee voted 17 to 14 in favor of the bill.

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Posted 4/29/13 - Pioneer Press

State funding for pre-kindergarten programs had its largest drop ever last year and states are now spending less per child than they did a decade ago, according to a report released Monday, April 29.

The report also found that more than a half million preschool students are in programs that don't meet standards suggested by industry experts that would qualify for federal dollars.

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Posted April 24, 2013 - Star Tribune

Legislation to improve the safety of child care in Minnesota is expected to pass the state Senate this week, including broader training requirements for in-home providers and stricter rules to prevent deaths among sleeping infants.

The legislation, however, lacks some key recommendations issued last year by a state infant mortality panel. The panel, which examined more than 80 day-care deaths, recommended more frequent inspections of day-care homes and lower ratios of children-to-provider — measures that some lawmakers deemed too costly for the state and onerous for day-care providers.

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In his State of the Union address in February, President Obama announced an ambitious agenda for early care and education. This early care and education initiative would greatly increase access to high-quality pre-K for four-year-olds with a new investment of $75 billion to support state-federal partnerships, expand the availability of high-quality options for infants and toddlers through partnerships between Early Head Start and child care, and expand voluntary home visiting programs with a new investment of $15 billion.

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Posted 4/20/13 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

After years of falling to the bottom of the funding priority list, Minnesota’s littlest learners may finally get a substantial and long-overdue boost from the 2013 Legislature.

Gov. Mark Dayton and his Education Department propose spending about $85 million to provide early education for the state’s 3- to 6-year-olds, nearly splitting that amount between expanding all-day kindergarten and scholarships for quality preschools.

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Posted 4/22/13 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

A Pulitzer Prize-winning Star Tribune series of news stories over the past year spotlighted a public health crisis in Minnesota: an alarming increase over the past decade in the number of children dying at in-home day cares.

Now it’s up to state lawmakers to approve long-overdue reforms to tighten lax regulations and enact critical safeguards to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and suffocation-related death.

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Posted 4/11/13 - KMSP (FOX) CH 9 - Minneapolis

In a world full of screens, many parents try to help their kids get ahead with technology, but research suggests that simply spending time talking to children at an early age could make the biggest difference.

It's often said that children are like sponges, and research shows that talking with children regularly from the time they are born until age three is likely to improve their IQ and performance later in school.

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Posted 3/26/13 - KAAL (ABC) CH 6

New research suggests building children’s math skills early in life is more important than previously thought.

A new study of 180 seventh graders showed that students who struggled with math in middle school were the same students who had difficulty in first grade.

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Posted March 30, 2013 - Star Tribune

After the deaths of three babies in a little more than a year, Dakota County is preparing a wake-up campaign to motivate home child-care providers to put infants down to sleep on their backs.

The awareness campaign will start in April with postcards mailed to all 793 licensed homes in the county. The cards will feature a picture of a baby coffin.

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Posted 3/4/13 - KAALTV

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Last week President Obama urged congress and local governments to improve early childhood education, saying more emphasis needs to be placed on getting kids ready for kindergarten.

And now Minnesota lawmakers are responding with a dramatic new proposal.

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Posted 2/1/13 - St. Paul Pioneer Press

Raeja Washington waits patiently until the bucket full of letters and words makes its way around the table to her. A smile then spreads across the kindergartner's face as she picks out a piece of pink paper and reads its contents out loud.

"Happy," she says confidently, passing the pail to one of her classmates at American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul.

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Posted 1/30/13 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

With recommendations, state balances safety and affordability.

State officials struck the right balance between safety and affordability with the pragmatic package of proposed day-care regulatory reforms released this week.

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Posted 1/29/13 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Responding to rise in deaths, the Legislature will consider mandating more training and giving parents more access to inspection records.

State regulators will propose an ambitious new set of safety measures -- including increased training, stiffer penalties and online access to more licensing records -- in an effort to reverse the sharp rise in child deaths across Minnesota's in-home day-care system.

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Posted 1/13/13 - St. Paul Pionee Press

George Holden envisions a world without spanking. No more paddling in the principal's office. No more swats on little rear ends, not even -- and here is where Holden knows he is staring up at a towering cliff of parental rights resistance -- not even in the privacy of the home. When it comes to disciplining a child, Holden's view is absolute: No hitting.

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Posted 1/15/13 - St. Paul Pioneer Press

Advocates for Minnesota's earliest learners want the state to invest an additional $150 million a year to give the neediest children access to high-quality child care and preschool programs.

Researchers and economists agree that when it comes to return on investment, early-childhood education gives taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck. And MinneMinds, a coalition of business leaders and community foundations, is hoping interest will gain steam again with Democrats in control of the Legislature and the governor's office. The group's proposal would help prepare an additional 20,000 low-income 3- and 4-year-olds for school by giving their families about $6,000 a child to send them to qualified programs of their choice.

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Posted 1/16/13 - MinnPost

On Monday, members of the group MinneMinds rallied at the capitol in support of the needs of low-income kids in Minnesota. The video excerpts the speeches of four DFL senators — Chuck Wiger, Patricia Torres-Ray, Alice Johnson, Tom Saxhaug — given in support of early education for all Minnesotans.

 

Posted 1/18/13 -  Minneapolis Star Tribune

This week, a diverse coalition of Minnesota groups expressed support for a "MinneMinds" initiative to invest a large sum of public money in prekindergarten early education. As fiscal conservatives, we would have reluctantly opposed the proposal a year or two ago. Today, we support the general approach.

What made the difference for us, and for many others in the business community? The Parent Aware Ratings now being implemented across Minnesota.

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Posted 12/19/12 - MinnPost

In the media scramble to gather information about Adam Lanza, the shooter in last week’s Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, some news outlets have suggested that the 20-year-old may have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder sometimes referred to as “high-functioning autism.”

Whether or not Lanza had received such a diagnosis (and it is all speculation at this point), experts who work closely with the autism community want to make one thing clear: Violent behavior is not a symptom of autism. There is no evidence that people with the disorder are more likely to commit a violent crime than those without it. In fact, people with autism are more likely to be the victims of a crime.

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Posted 12/11/12 - MinnPost

As Gov. Mark Dayton nears the mid-point of his four-year term as governor, his office is preparing lists of the things accomplished in the state under his leadership.

On Monday, officials covered the economy.

Today, it's education. The summary:

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Posted 12/3/12 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

With the elections behind us, we can now refocus on two of America's most pressing challenges: restoring our economy and improving the health and well-being of our children.

Some may not see the connection between these issues. However, speaking jointly as the president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy dedicated exclusively to health and health care, and as the former research director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, we see this link clearly.

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Posted 12/6/12 - Northland's News Center

Despite budget projections being in the deficit column in Minnesota, one group is calling on lawmakers to spend more on education.

"Our children call it preschool, not daycare that offends them."

The Endion Square Children's Center believes in balance in planning for kindergarten.

"This helps prepare them for all that, both socially and academically."

Preschool teacher Tammi Peterson stresses that preparation before entering the school system is essential for academic success.

"Kindergarten is no longer kindergarten, it's more like first grade, said Peterson. "There is so much that they learn and have to deal with at school."

This is why a group called MinneMinds is urging lawmakers to spend more in early education going forward.

"The push is that there is a disparity in the level of quality care setting that is available throughout the state," said Paula Reed with United Way Duluth.

MinneMinds goal is to phase in an increase in spending to access quality education programs for three to four year old children living at poverty levels.

The program would begin, in 2014 with allocations close to $78 Million dollars, eventually reaching $150 Million in 2017.

"After a couple weeks of our routine you can tell a difference in what they can accomplish themselves."

Teachers say the skills acquired before the age of five, will have a lifelong impact.

According to the MinneMinds timeline, their budget recommendations would provide close to 14,000 kids with scholarships in 2014.

Posted 12/9/12 - Star Tribune

Dorothy Sayre has run a home day care for three decades and has always tried to put kids' safety first.

But this fall, after she saw a state proposal to crack down on child-care providers, she began to worry that the state was taking safety too far, in ways that could put people like her out of business.

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Posted: 10/11/2012 - MinnPost

The widespread use of pesticides in homes and on farms is undermining our children’s health and creating a “generation in jeopardy,” according to a report released Wednesday by the California-based Pesticide Action Network (PAN).

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Posted: 2011-11-18

By Cynthia Boyd | MinnPost

Minnesota’s poorest children are at high risk of never overcoming the debilitating effects of poverty, despite a state program intended to better their lot, according to a new study by the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota.

According to “Minnesota’s Invisible Children: Children in Families Receiving MFIP,” about 70 percent of those receiving financial support through the Minnesota Family Investment Program Assistance are children, yet “MFIP is woefully inadequate in keeping kids out of poverty,’’ says Marcie Jefferys, the fund’s policy development director and author of the report.

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Posted: 2011-12-13

By SABRINA TAVERNISE, New York Times

BALTIMORE With states under pressure to cut their budgets and federal stimulus money gone, low-income working parents are facing a paradox. Just when they have to work longer hours to make ends meet, they are losing access to the thing they need most to stay on the job: a government subsidy that helps pay for child care.

The subsidy, a mix of federal and state funds that reimburses child care providers on behalf of families, is critical to the lives of poor women. But it has been eaten away over the years by inflation and growing need and recently by state budget cuts, leaving parents struggling to find other arrangements to stay employed.

States have dropped their investment in child care substantially, said Linda Saterfield, vice chairwoman of the National Association of State Child Care Administrators, who oversees child care for the state of Illinois. Were being expected to do more with less. Her state has toughened eligibility for the subsidies and raised co-payments from families to cover the growing demand.

Sheontay Smith, a single mother in Baltimore, and her son are among nearly 8,000 families on a waiting list for the subsidy in Maryland. Pennsylvanias list doubled since last year to more than 10,000 children, and Arkansass quadrupled to 11,000, according to the National Womens Law Center.

At least two states, Arizona and Utah, are no longer appropriating state general funds for child care at all.

According to a recent report by the law center, families in 37 states were worse off this year than last year as waiting lists grew, co-payments rose, eligibility tightened and reimbursement rates for providers stagnated.

We recognize that this is a tough time for states, said Shannon Rudisill, who oversees the subsidy program at the Administration for Children and Families, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. They have a hard set of choices that they have to negotiate.

She said that President Obama had recommended an increase in the subsidy in the 2011 budget, but that it had not been approved by Congress. Stimulus money, which had raised financing by a fifth in 2009 and 2010, is now gone.

Christian Griffith, chief consultant of the California Assembly Budget Committee, said the state cut $335 million in child care financing this year, and with hundreds of millions in cuts to other public services courts, schools and the public university system there arent many good options at this point.

The nonprofit Child Care Resource Center, which determines eligibility for the subsidy for thousands of families in northern Los Angeles County, said it had noted a 13 percent decline in licensed child care centers since June 2010 as budget cuts reduced the numbers of families on the subsidy.

The reduction is prompting advocates for poor women to question whether the implied social contract that emerged during the federal welfare overhaul in the 1990s that women go to work in exchange for help with child care is fraying.

Theres a long history of recognition that child care is essential to helping low-income women work, said Helen Blank, the director of public policy at the National Womens Law Center, who helped shape child care policy in the 1990s. That commitment is being eroded.

For children in families waiting for the subsidy, life becomes a kaleidoscope of caretakers. Women interviewed for this article said they left their children with grandparents, neighbors, cousins, siblings, and colleagues at a nail salon. Such ad hoc arrangements hinder early-childhood development, state administrators say, just as states are trying to make it a priority.

One mother on a waiting list in Virginia said her 11-year-old daughter rode around in a city bus after school, watched over by the driver, who is the girls grandmother, until the mother got off work. The smaller safety net comes as the share of working Americans under or just above the poverty line the target group for the subsidy, which is linked to income is the highest in years. And while demand for the subsidy declined with the recession, it has shot back up in many states as employment has returned, putting new strain on child care resources.

Weve seen quite a steep increase in demand, said Elizabeth Kelley, director of Marylands Office of Child Care.

Ms. Smith, who works full time at the Baltimore Housing Authority, has been on a waiting list since summer. She applied because her sons father stopped paying child support, and the monthly $520 she needed for her 3-year-olds day care was more than her $22,000 salary could support.

She took her son out, but ended up losing half her paycheck in unpaid days off because her regular baby sitters, among them Ms. Smiths grandmother, who is on kidney dialysis, fell through. The only way to get the subsidy, her caseworker told her, was to stop working and go on welfare. (In Maryland, someone on welfare is automatically eligible.)

Is the system set up for me to fail? Because thats what it feels like, said Ms. Smith.

Her son is now back in day care, at the expense of other bills. Her phone was cut off this week, and she is behind on her gas, electricity and car insurance.

Another hurdle has been the rates at which the centers are reimbursed. The law centers report found that only three states reimburse at federally recommended levels, down from 22 in the beginning of the decade, and some providers say they can no longer afford to take families on subsidies. Toni Cacace-Beshears, who runs a network of child care centers in southeastern Virginia, said families on the subsidy paid at rates so far below her other customers about two-thirds that she had to do fund-raising to help make up the difference.

Im subsidizing my subsidized clients, she said. The gap created a shortfall over the past year of about $272,000 or about 14 percent of her child care budget.

Parents in income brackets that are a little higher pay more as a result. Monica Jackson, a bakery worker and a pharmacy technician in Norfolk, Va., was told that she and her husband, an Army reservist who is looking for work, did not qualify for the subsidy because their income, around $20,000, is too high, a ruling she is disputing. They cannot afford child care, which Ms. Jackson said cost $1,400 a month, more than their rent.

What do you tell people who call you for an interview? she asked. Im bringing my 3-year-old and 11-month-old?

Those who have the subsidy live in fear of losing it. Lori Lebo, a customer service worker for an electricity company in Pennsylvania, said she had to ask her new boyfriend and her 8-year-old son to watch her baby girl, who was at home screaming with a fever, because she had received too many warnings at work about taking time off to care for her.

If we get removed, it will be back on the waiting list for both kids, she worried. That will be havoc for a new job.

Posted: 2011-12-29

By AMY TAXIN Associated Press

OXNARD, Calif.Sarah Comito rolls out of bed before dawn most days and slips quietly out of her house. Before her rambunctious toddler wakes up, she heads off to work as a waitress in an upscale weight-loss resort in Malibu.

The hour-long commute is exhausting, but the 33-year-old is thankful to make the trip when she remembers where she and her husband were four years ago: living in a tent in a nearby river bottom, strung out on methamphetamine.

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Posted: 2011-02-22

By Mark Fischenich
The Mankato Free Press
Tue Feb 22, 2011, 11:06 PM CST

Legislation requiring teachers at day care centers to be trained in CPR, which was inspired by the choking death of a 4-year-old at a North Mankato day care in June, received unanimous support in its first state House committee hearing Tuesday.

We wonder if the people who attended to Hannah had been certified, if it would have made a difference, said Ron Edlund, grandfather of Hannah Kozitza. I dont know. All I know is I dont want anybody to have to go through what were going through.

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Posted: 2011-05-10

Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF), the business community, education reformers and a bipartisan group of legislators are all are pushing for early-education reforms at the Legislature this year. This broad coalition is extremely concerned about kindergarten assessments finding that half of Minnesota children are arriving in kindergarten unprepared.

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Posted: 2011-11-03

A kid who is sick and tired and hungry and scared isn’t ready to sit and learn, child advocates say. And that’s all too often the plight of Minnesota’s poor kids.

Now members of the state’s new Children’s Cabinet, a collaborative effort with members from three state agencies, hope to help those kids in new and more effective ways.

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Posted: 2012-02-13

ST. PAUL – Finding the perfect child care provider can be tough for any parent, but if your child is disabled or has special needs, it can be even more difficult. Karen Fogolin, associate director of the Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network, advises focusing on the place and the program. When it comes to the people working there, she says to look for those with a philosophy of inclusion.

“You want someone who is very understanding and accepting and really celebrates differences and is willing to make certain accommodations to the program and to the environment.”

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Posted: 2012-04-16

MinnPost , By Sharon Schmickle

MinnPost has assembled a panel of leadership experts and scholars, who are rotating in commenting on each of the examples of leadership profiled in our series, “Driving Change: A Lens on Leadership.” Today, graduate students from the University of Minnesota’s leadership program comment on aspects of leadership presented in “Making the case for early ed, Art Rolnick has had ‘enormous impact.’ “

Whether or not that was the intent, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel defined distinct leadership roles while describing Art Rolnicks contribution to the cause of early-childhood education.

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