Minnesota needs high-quality early childhood care and education to support children, working parents and the economic vitality of our state. But we continue to have a crisis on our hands. We do not have enough qualified or adequately compensated early childhood educators to take care of all of the children in Minnesota.
The best way to make a direct impact both to families’ access to, and the quality of early childcare and education is to shift both attitudes and resources to support the ecosystem of early childhood care and education. The eco system is built on the foundation of a qualified, diverse, supported and family compensated early childhood educator workforce.
Priorities to Support Early Care and Education During the Pandemic
- Continued infrastructure grants to help keep programs open and staff paid. These infrastructure grants should be better scaled to the size of the programs. The past “one size fits all” for centers could be more specifically tailored. We need to pay attention to rural centers; many of which are at risk of closing. Small centers, including those owned by women of color, are also at risk.
- We are hearing stories of educators leaving the field in large numbers and centers having to try to hire to replace all the staff that have departed. We have to do something to “stop the bleeding” and keep educators in place and let them know we have their backs. Putting more resources into proven programs, TEACH and REETAIN, would help.
- As federal funds are available, we also have to keep working to increase access for our most vulnerable families including our lowest income families.
Priorities for a Better ECE Landscape After the Pandemic
- We recommend implementing our financing proposal to cover the true costs of an accessible, affordable high quality early care and education system. More information can be found at our website
- We also want to specifically call out the need to support Minnesota’s institutes of higher education. There are so many parts of our ECE landscape that are dependent on our early childhood higher education programs. These programs are vastly underfunded and are nowhere close to producing the number of qualified educators that we will need.2
- We support the funding laid out in last year’s HF 1 as well.
There are non-legislative/administrative strategies that we should get moving on in addition to these legislative approaches. We would recommend the following:
- Work to implement Power to the Profession in Minnesota. The national organization, Power to the Profession, with support from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, is working to develop materials for states to use to start making the necessary changes. But there are things we should be doing now to get this infrastructure in place that will help us build, over time, high quality educators (including those with CDAs, AAs and BAs) and compensate them appropriately. This work will require cross-agency involvement and support.3
- We need to build public will for the kind of investments we are asking the legislature to make through a communications/marketing campaign and coordinated effort from all ECE advocates. We know that investing in early care and education has high bi-partisan support and we should build off of that.
- Parent Aware should be modified to better support ECE professionals.
See our Memo on Tax Credits
Information on T.E.A.C.H
Information on REETAIN
For more information about early childhood related legislation, we recommend Child Care Aware of Minnesota’s web page. They do a fabulous job of putting out a weekly bill tracker and update about all things related to early childhood. Child Care Aware of Minnesota Bill Tracker