Rallying for Minnesota’s Children – Advocacy for Children Day 2017

Rallying for Minnesota’s Children – Advocacy for Children Day 2017 960 638 Ivy Marsnik

Advocacy for Children Day celebrates early learning and gives parents, teachers, early care and education professionals, and communities from across the state an opportunity to stand up and be a voice for children. Led by the MinneMinds coalition, which Way to Grow is actively involved in, our staff and several families we serve are gathering at the capitol in support of equitable, child-centered, parent-directed, mixed delivery approaches to state policies affecting families and children. The 2017 policy agenda MinneMinds leads includes:

Ensuring Quality Care Through Parent Aware
  • Fully fund Parent Aware to continue the expansion of high‐quality early learning programs throughout Minnesota.
  • Support existing rated providers and grow from 3,000 programs to 4,400.
  • Ongoing support for rated providers and implementation of improvement strategies, with a priority on stronger recognition and incorporation of cultural competency.
Increasing Access to Quality Early Learning Through Scholarships
  • Increase funding and access of State Early Learning Scholarships for in need children birth‐to five to attend high quality early childhood development programs (Prioritize children with highest needs, including those facing homelessness and in foster care).
  • Complete efforts to fully‐fund scholarships for low‐income 3‐ and 4‐year‐olds to serve 7,000 new, at risk preschoolers.
  • Add funding for high priority groups for 0 to 2‐year‐olds (siblings, homeless, foster care, child protection) to serve 3,400 new, at risk babies and toddlers.
Assisting More Families In Need Through Home Visiting Programs
  • Increase access and funding for targeted home visiting programs to include 7,000 children in high poverty.
  • Provide community‐led solutions to high‐risk families to help stabilize them and give them a strong start.

What You Can Do

Attend the Rally

Join over 500 fellow early learning advocates as we fill the rotunda at the Minnesota State Capitol on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Activities for children begin at 9 am with the rally beginning at 9:30 am. From 11 am – 4 pm legislators will be available for visits.

Register Here

Submit a Letter and Children’s Art

Whether or not you are able to attend the rally, we encourage you to submit a letter to your senators and representatives and tell them why our state’s youngest learners matter to you. Greater Twin Cities United Way  will collect children’s artwork to accompany the letters submitted.

Mail your artwork to:
Lulete Mola
Greater Twin Cities United Way
404 S 8th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Download Letter Template

Meet with Legislators

Meeting with legislators can be easier than you think. Follow these simple steps:
1) Find out who your legislators are
2) Set up a time to meet
3) Identify your main message and a personal story supporting that message
4) Follow these tips for holding a successful meeting

For parents and providers, MinneMinds pre-K scholarships are working

For parents and providers, MinneMinds pre-K scholarships are working 150 150 Way to Grow

By: Nicholas Banovetz, Deputy Director, MinnCAN

In just shy of two years, more than 80 organizations across Minnesota have convened and formed the MinneMinds campaign to increase access to high-quality early education for Minnesota kids. Following is a brief recap of the campaign’s work and how you can get involved!

The building blocks

In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature passed–and Gov. Dayton signed into law–historic funding of $40 million to provide low-income children pre-K scholarships so they can attend high-quality early learning programs. Way to Grow is a recipient of such scholarships, helping the top-rated Parent-Aware program reach more kids. But unfortunately this funding reaches approximately 9 percent of the need, which is why the MinneMinds campaign is back at the Capitol this session asking for two things:

  1. Additional funding to increase the number of children served; and
  2. Adjustments to the current scholarship cap of $5,o00 so these scholarships are more flexible and work better for families.

The evidence is clear

Every year approximately 15,400 low-income children arrive at kindergarten not fully prepared to succeed–about half of all kindergartners, costing Minnesota $56,000 over the lifetime of each unprepared child and approximately $860 million for every year this trend continues, according to Wilder Research. And according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, well-focused investments in early childhood development yield high public returns, as much as $16 to $1.

Learn more about the landscape of early education in Minnesota–and the opportunities within reaching distance.

In short, an abundance of local research tells us that when we connect children to high-quality pre-K programs, these students are far more likely to succeed across the K-12 continuum. They’re more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to enroll in post-secondary opportunities and more likely to avoid arrest for a violent crime.

MinneMinds investments are much needed for underserved Minnesota kids. They also hold promise for us all–helping sustain Minnesota as a thriving place to live and work.

And now that scholarships are rolling out…

MinneMinds scholarships are flowing out the door, from the Twin Cities metro to outstate Minnesota. And families and providers are responding. Here’s one story from a provider in Greater Minnesota, who’s witnessed firsthand a mother and father who have been hit hard by the economy:

With the father out of work, the mother became the sole income provider for their family. By the time the parents had paid for their three children to attend an early learning program at a local family childcare provider, they had absolutely nothing left of their monthly income. With no other choice, the family was forced to consider pulling all three children out of the early learning program.

Their family childcare provider was going through the Parent Aware program and was able to provide the mother and father with information about the early learning scholarships program. She even helped the mother and father apply.

News came later that their application had been accepted and all three children are currently receiving an early learning scholarship. The children were able to remain in the licensed family childcare provider’s early learning program, eliminating the possibility of a gap in their education.  Both the mother and father are so grateful for the early learning scholarships their children are receiving.

Lastly, take action!

The legislative session ends on May 19–please take two minutes before then and contact your legislators. Urge them to support MinneMinds and continue the momentum.

Learn more about MinneMinds at www.MinneMinds.com.


Rep. Winkler Putting Forth Early Ed Bill

Rep. Winkler Putting Forth Early Ed Bill 150 150 Way to Grow

Today, Representative Ryan Winkler will announce a bill to continue Minnesota’s investment in early childhood education, close the achievement gap, and build on the work done in 2013’s ‘Education Session.’

The bill, authored by Representative Ryan Winkler, calls for increased funding for early learning scholarships, which research has proven addresses the achievement gap, and in turn, prepares Minnesota’s children for a lifetime of success. Additionally, the bill seeks to increase the flexibility of scholarships so that every parent can choose the right program for their child.  Senator Melisa Franzen will author the bill in the Senate.

Members of the MinneMinds coalition, a statewide campaign focused on increasing Minnesota’s investment in early childhood education, will be there to support teachers, providers, parents, legislators and economists who believe increasing access to high quality early education for all Minnesotan children is the best investment our state can make.

– from a Media Alert issued by State Representative Ryan Winkler’s office.

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