Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and her Cradle to K Cabinet released a final report detailing a plan to eliminate disparities for children in Minneapolis from birth to three years old.
Hodges campaigned on her Cradle to K idea to close what she saw as a public health epidemic of children unprepared for kindergarten.
“It’s a big day for a mayor who had an idea, saw it come to fruition with the cabinet and now we have these ideas and can move into implementation,” said Hodges. “But really it’s a big day for Minneapolis, big day for the kids and the families in the city of Minneapolis because we have an even better idea of how we can move forward to make sure our children thrive.”
Hodges and her cabinet met with over 200 community members in March and received considerable feedback on how to implement the plan. The nearly 50-page report outlines three main goals.
First, to make sure every child has a healthy start, by boosting home visits, early childhood screenings, and mental health services. Secondly, after public feedback, Cradle to K will make sure safe and stable housing is another top priority. Last, the group will work to bring more access to high-quality childcare. All the goals are supported by current research and prevailing best practices, along with policy and legislative recommendations to make the strategies reality.
“The beautiful thing about this report it acknowledges that children don’t come in pieces and that we need to ensure that family systems are included when we talk about outcomes for children,” said Peggy Flanagan, Cradle to K Co-Chair and Children’s Defense Fund Executive Director.
Carolyn Smallwood, Cradle to K Co-Chair and Way to Grow Executive Director spoke about the efforts to reach out to family networks.
“Family, friends and neighbors are cornerstones of our services in Minneapolis and that’s where the majority of our children are being cared for so the city has to come up with a strategy that would align those two,” said Smallwood.
Outreach will extend to pregnant women and families with young children as Cradle to K works to leverage existing services of Way to Grow, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, Generation Next, among other organizations.
“That access and those resources, and mostly the need for those additional resources are not determined by income, by race and are not determined by zip code,” said Hodges.
Hodges stressed the city is at a critical juncture with the disparities young children face, pointing out 80 percent of brain development occurs by three years old.
The recommendations in the Cradle to K report will be tracked beginning in 2016.
This post by Lindsey Seavert originally appeared on KARE 11.