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Insights, Ideas, and Resources for Early Learning

Welcome to the Think Small Blog, your go-to destination for valuable insights, innovative ideas, and inspiring stories in the field of early learning. Dive into a treasure trove of articles crafted by our team of experts, dedicated to empowering child care providers, educators, and families.

Discover practical tips, evidence-based strategies, and the latest research findings to support children aged 0-5 on their journey to kindergarten readiness. From fostering social-emotional development to promoting cognitive skills, our blog covers a wide range of topics, ensuring you stay informed and equipped to make a positive impact on young lives.

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2024 Internship Reflection

On Monday, the 20th of May we saw the Minnesota Legislature session come to a close, and with that comes the end of my time as this year’s Todd Otis ...

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Early Literacy Efforts Pushed to 2025

As the 2024 legislative session winds down, the pile of ideas on the cutting room floor is growing and, unfortunately, it includes early literacy. It was a bumper biennium with nearly ...

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Update: Child Care Licensing Modernization Project

Last year we shared a blog post and timeline for early care and education projects underway in Minnesota. In this post we’re checking in on the Child Care Regulation Modernization ...

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How to Advocate: Tips and Resources to Get Started

Are you intrigued by advocacy but not sure how to start? This guide is for you!  As an early childhood professional and/or parent, you have invaluable first-hand experience and knowledge ...

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How to Host a Child Care Program Tour for Elected Officials

Inviting elected officials to tour your child care program is one of the most advocacy effective strategies. It’s an opportunity to both build a relationship with your elected official and ...

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Guest Post: What is the READ Act?

In Minnesota and around the country, many children are not on track to read proficiently. The latest Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) results show just 48% of 3rd graders met or ...

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Getting to 7%: A Parent’s Guide to MN’s Movement for Child Care Affordability

If you’ve learned about efforts to make quality child care available and affordable for Minnesota parents and are wondering what it would take to make the results you see on ...

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What is this 7% thing all about?

If you’ve used the Child Care Cost Calculator and you’re left wondering:  How the heck would all of this work?  This blog post is for you!    Think Small created the ...

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2024 Minnesota Early Childhood Reports

If 2023 was the year of legislative activity for child care in Minnesota, 2024 is the year of reports! As projects from the 2023 session get underway and existing projects ...

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Child Care Affordability Calculator: Additional Context

There is broad agreement that Minnesota’s current early care and education system is not working well for parents, children, or providers. Costs for parents are too high to bear.  The ...

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A close up of a childs chest who's holding several crayons

Early Childhood Newsletters--Get Connected!

A great way to stay connected with early childhood policy is by making sure you’re signed up to newsletters from organizations and projects you care about. It can also keep ...

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Child Care Assistance Program: Additional Changes and Future Aspirations

  CCAP helps families pay for child care costs while parents go to work or school. It is a complex program that receives federal and state funding.  Minnesota counties administer ...

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Child Care Assistance Program: Waitlist and Eligibility

CCAP helps families pay for child care costs while parents go to work or school. It is a complex program that receives federal and state funding.  Minnesota counties administer the ...

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Child Care Assistance Program Reimbursement Rate Changes

  CCAP helps families pay for child care costs while parents go to work or school. It is a complex program that receives federal and state funding.  Minnesota counties administer ...

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What’s in the Budget AND When is it Happening: Child Care Assistance Program

  In the summary of what passed this legislative session, one of the important items was changes and funding for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). CCAP helps families pay ...

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When is it Happening: Early Childhood Infrastructure, Policy Changes, and Reports

  Many changes to early care and education policy passed this legislative session. In an attempt to organize and track the milestones ahead, we’ve created this blog post and accompanying ...

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When Is It Happening: Early Learning Scholarships

  Early Learning Scholarships will see significant changes in the months and years ahead. Early Learning Scholarships give low-income families financial support to help pay for quality early care and ...

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Parent and teacher with a child.

What's in the Budget: Early Care and Education Workforce

  It is no secret to those who work in or rely on child care that the field struggled even before the pandemic. The challenge of covering the actual costs ...

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A Unique Experience: Reflections on This Year's Session

  My interest in this internship was fueled by my love for early childhood education and deeply held belief that we have a civic duty to support young children and ...

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Reflection and Advice: 2023 Todd Otis Public Policy Internship

  The events that occur early on in life can alter its future. Because of this, it is vital that every child in every community has a pathway to success. ...

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2023 Early Care and Education Legislation 

  There’s now a clearer picture of what will become law in 2023. When it comes to early care and education, there is a lot! We’re still digesting, but here’s ...

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What’s in the Budget: Early Learning Scholarships 

  House File 2292, the early education omnibus bill, passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Walz. This bill contains new investments and policy ...

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Early Care and Education in the Omnibus Bills

  State legislators are on Spring Break, and omnibus budget bills are available. An omnibus bill is made up of many other bills centered on a specific topic. State legislators ...

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Ideas to Celebrate the Week of the Young Child 

  A fun way to add excitement to any week is by adding a theme that everyone can celebrate together!  The National Association for the Education of Young Children celebrates ...

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Early Care and Education Efforts in Progress

  The 2023 State Legislative Session is officially underway. Legislators are meeting with constituents, bills are being drafted and introduced, and committees are holding hearings!  Legislative leaders and Governor Walz ...

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Advocate for Early Childhood at the Minnesota State Fair

Advocate for Early Childhood at the Minnesota State Fair 

The Minnesota State Fair is a unique opportunity to connect with elected officials because so many of them have a presence on the fairgrounds.  Here's how you can connect with them!

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People and Policy: Reflections on the 2022 Legislative Session 

The 2022 legislative session is officially over, which means so too is our time working with Think Small as public policy interns. It’s a bittersweet goodbye. On one hand, both of us have cherished the valuable connections we’ve made at Think Small, but on the other hand we’re excited to apply what we’ve learned about early childhood advocacy to our careers.  

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Importance of Community Solutions Fund

The importance of Community Solutions Fund, one grantee speaks out on their experience and the impacts it has on their community.

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Todd Otis Internship at Think Small

Two Public Policy Interns Join Think Small in 2022 

Think Small is proud to host two Todd Otis Public Policy interns in 2022. The internship welcomes Eidan Silver and Quynh Nhu Dao to learn firsthand about early learning policy in the state.  

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2021 Elections Matter for Young Children

2021 Elections Matter for Young Children

By: Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at Think Small It’s election season! While there aren’t any Presidential or Congressional candidates on the tickets this year, there is still plenty to ...

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Preschool teacher with children playing with colorful wooden didactic toys at kindergarten

5 Reasons to Be Hopeful about Early Care and Education Policy 

By: Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Lately I’ve had been feeling extra-inspired by my state and national colleagues about where we’re at when it comes to early care and education policy. It feels ...

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unrecognizable little girl playing with wooden blocks at table at home

How Mixed Delivery Builds Equity and Inclusion for Families

Image of building blocks symbolizing building equity in families through mixed delivery.

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Supporting Indigenous Parents: Community Solutions Grantee Update

By Jacqueline Zhang, Todd Otis Public Policy Intern For many years, Barb Fabre has recognized the need for advocating for and empowering parents in the family and child care sectors. Throughout her ...

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Learning from a Distance: Reflections from 2021 Todd Otis Public Policy Interns

By: Helen Sabrowsky and Jacqueline Zhang, Todd Otis Public Policy Interns Hello from the 2021 Todd Otis Public Policy Interns, Helen and Jacqueline! It’s hard to believe that the 2021 legislative session is almost over, and with that, our time ...

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Two Public Policy Interns Join Think Small in 2021

By Kristie Thorson, Communications Specialist You’ve heard the phrase “the more the merrier”? This legislative session, Think Small made the decision to host two Todd Otis Public Policy interns. The internship ...

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Guest Post: Why Compensation Matters

By Christa Anders, Coordinator, Transforming Minnesota’s Early Childhood Workforce I am so looking forward to 2021!! Despite a rough start to the year, I am hoping that science will help bring ...

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Keys to a Successful Meeting with an Elected Official

There’s the saying, “it’s all about who you know.”  When it comes to gaining support for your issue, meeting in person with your legislator is one of the most effective ...

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How to Advocate...Virtually

Parts of our pandemic life are becoming familiar. Video calls, online ordering, different health and safety protocols. We adapt and create as we go. Elected officials have had to adapt ...

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How to Write or Email Your Elected Officials

Writing a message to your legislator on paper or via email is a good tool to have in your advocacy toolbox. A written message allows you to craft your words ...

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How to Use Social Media for Early Education Advocacy

Are you familiar with the world of likes, shares, and retweets? Want to use your social media savvy to make a difference in the early childhood education field? Whether you’re ...

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How to Call Your Elected Officials

Calling elected officials is a great way to communicate with them. Effective, yet time-efficient, a phone call allows you to connect for any number of reasons. If you already know ...

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How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Are you feeling passionate? Frustrated? Angry? Inspired? Consider channeling that energy toward advocacy. A letter to the editor is a great way to share your thoughts. Here are some situations ...

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Public Policy Intern Reflects on Unpredictable Experience

By Kieu My Phi, Public Policy Intern Hello there! You may remember me from the blog post introducing me in February. My name is Kieu My Phi, and I am ...

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Policy Hour - Coronavirus Early Childhood Update

By Cisa Keller, Senior Vice President of Early Childhood Quality Development The April Policy Hour focused on Coronavirus Early Childhood Updates.  Children’s Cabinet Update Stephanie Hogenson, Policy Director for the ...

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How to Connect with Your Minnesota Legislators

By Marie Huey, Public Policy & Advocacy Coordinator and Kieu My Phi, Public Policy Intern Talking to your legislators is great way to advocate for young children. Whether your goal ...

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Policy Hour - Budget Forecast and Census

March’s Policy Hour provided an update on the state budget forecast, and the importance of participating in the upcoming census. State Budget Forecast Betsy Hammer, from the MN Budget Project, ...

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Attend a Precinct Caucus and Submit a Resolution to Support Early Learning

By Marie Huey, Public Policy & Advocacy Coordinator On Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00 pm, Minnesota will hold precinct caucuses around the state. They are the beginning of a process that ...

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Policy Hour - State Level Coordination Efforts

By Marie Huey, Public Policy & Advocacy Coordinator February’s Ann Kaner-Roth Policy hour provided an opportunity to hear from state agencies about their current early childhood projects. Governor’s Children’s Cabinet ...

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New Public Policy Intern Joins Think Small Team

By Kristie Thorson, Communications Specialist Ever since she was a little girl, Kieu My Phi knew she wanted to grow up and help other children. Her enthusiasm for advocacy, especially ...

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Policy Hour - 2020 Legislative Session Preview

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Every year, we gaze into the crystal ball to predict what might be ahead for the legislative session. Nobody ever gets it ...

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Policy Hour: Child Care Updates

This month’s Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour was focused on recent and upcoming work at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) with presenters from the Child Care Assistance Program and Child Development ...

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Early Care & Education Crisis Work Group Convening

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Two interconnected crises continue in Minnesota:   worst-in-the-nation achievement gaps and  a severe child care shortage in many parts of the state Last ...

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Guest Post: Community Solutions Grant Program

By Voices and Choices for Children Coalition “This is the time for us to not just dream about what could be, but also start to build alternatives that we want ...

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Advocate for Early Learning at the Great MN Get-Together!

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator The Minnesota State Fair is a great time to put your advocacy skills to work! With so many organizations and resources, you don’t have ...

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Guest Post: What Do We Know About Minnesota's Early Childhood Workforce?

By Christa Anders, Coordinator, B8 Early Childhood Workforce Team Minnesota’s early childhood educators are “the workforce behind the workforce.”  These women, and a few men, who care for young children so ...

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Guest Post: Scottish Intern Reflects on What She's Learned in Minnesota

By Katie Burke, Public Policy Intern Hello there! You may remember me from the blog post introducing me earlier this year. My name is Katie Burke and I am in ...

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Policy Hour: Trauma in Early Childhood

By Marie Huey, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Katy Smith, Licensed Parent Educator and 2011 MN Teacher of the Year, and Dr. Monica Potter, Supervisor of Early Childhood and Family Education ...

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Policy Hour: Federal Update

By Marie Huey, Think Small Policy and Advocacy Coordinator While the state legislative session is heating up in Minnesota, there’s also plenty to discuss about what is going on with ...

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Policy Hour: State Budget Forecast & Governor's Budget Proposal

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator The March edition of Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour covered the state budget forecast and the Governor’s budget proposal. February Budget Forecast Betsy ...

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Policy Hour: Child Care

By Marie Huey, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Staff from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) joined us for February’s Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour to provide updates on child care.  ...

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Guest Post: Elders Reflect on Evaluation of Early Childhood Programs

Submitted by Jane Kretzmann, on behalf of Elders for Infants (Glenace Edwall, Dave Ellis, Sandy Heidemann, Jim Nicholie, Glen Palm, and Katie Williams). Elders for Infants is comprised of professionals ...

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New Public Policy Intern

By Kristie Thorson, Communications Specialist When Katie Burke arrived at the Minnesota State Capitol several minutes before the doors opened on a frigid January morning, she had to find a ...

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Guest Post: Elders Provide Historical Context on Minnesota's Early Care and Education Landscape

Submitted by Jane Kretzmann, on behalf of Elders for Infants (Glenace Edwall, Dave Ellis, Sandy Heidemann, Jim Nicholie, Glen Palm, and Katie Williams). Elders for Infants is comprised of professionals ...

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Early Learning Council Submits Recommendations to Governor

 Early Learning Council members are responsible for providing recommendations to the Governor and Legislature on how to create a high-quality, early childhood system in Minnesota that will help improve outcomes ...

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Know Your Numbers...

What are your numbers?6, 43A, 2, 7?5, 12B, 4, 1? By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Several elected officials represent you at different levels, and their districts often ...

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Five Helpful Resources for Advocating for High-Quality Child Care in 2019

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Are you motivated to advocate for children this year? If you’re looking to support high-quality child care in Minnesota, below are some ...

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Policy Hour: Mixed Delivery

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Mixed delivery is a hot topic in early care and education. Even with an extra half hour, December’s Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour ...

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Guest Post: A Lens into Our Democratic Process

By Ambar Cristina Hanson, M.P.A., Chief External Relations Officer at Hiawatha Academies and a Steering Committee member of the Voices and Choices for Children Coalition. Over the past several years, ...

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Policy Hour: Play, Parents and Policy

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator The November Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour focused on play, parents and policy. One of the presenters was Katy Smith, a Parent Educator who ...

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Small Talks: True Costs to Families and Early Child Care Educators

Small Talks features leaders who share key insights on early childhood education and discuss innovative solutions to early learning issues in Minnesota. Inadequate investment, scholarship caps, complicated funding streams, and ...

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Policy Hour: What Did We Do Over the Summer?

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Kids were on vacation this summer, but many adults didn’t have time for a break. October’s Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour got us ...

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U.S. Senator Tina Smith Introduces Bill to Improve Access to Child Care

U.S. Senator Tina Smith introduced a new bill aimed at reducing the child care shortage in Minnesota and across the nation. The Child Care Supply Improvement Act proposes supports for ...

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Use Your Advocacy Skills at the Great Minnesota Get-Together!

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator The Minnesota State Fair is a great time to put your advocacy skills to work! With so many organizations and resources, you ...

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Early Learning Scholarships Change Lives

“This opportunity wasn’t just good for her, and amazing for her, but it was also amazing for me. And if it’s amazing for me, it’s amazing for our little family.” ...

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Guest Post: Candidates for Governor Speak Out About Early Education Issues

By Ericca Maas, Close Gaps by 5 My organization is focused on closing Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gaps, which means closing the early education opportunity gaps facing the 35,000 low-income Minnesota ...

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An Encouraging Find: Another Potential Benefit of Parent Aware

“The survey results show that Parent Aware-rated programs across all parts of Minnesota were twice as likely to have stayed in business than non-rated programs.” High-quality early learning, as defined ...

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How Do 2018 Candidates Interact with Early Education?

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Every eligible Minnesota voter will have the opportunity to make their choice for statewide and federal offices this November. What authority do ...

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Be an Advocate: What to Do When Candidates Come Knocking

“Knock knock. Who’s there? Candidates. Candidates who? Candidates for Governor, Senator, Attorney General, State House of Representatives….” By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Campaign season is in full swing, and candidates ...

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Policy Hour: Legislative Wrap-Up

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator The 2018 legislative session ended on May 22. To explain the implications for the early care and education field, two experts joined ...

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Six Lessons from the Todd Otis Public Policy Internship

By: Emma Klingler Greetings! You may remember me from the blog post introducing me back in March. My tenure as the Todd Otis Public Policy Intern for Think Small is nearly ...

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Policy Hour: St. Paul's Citywide 3K Proposal

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Saint Paul is planning for a citywide 3K program, and Council Member Rebecca Noecker joined May’s Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour to explain ...

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Early Learning Scholarships Help Children & Families

“Please continue funding programs such as early childhood scholarships.  It definitely makes a difference.  It allows kids to get that extra boost in the beginning so they stay on track ...

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Policy Hour: National Update

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator The Minnesota State Legislature was off for Easter/Passover Break this week, so Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour turned its focus to national issues. ...

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Meet the First Todd Otis Public Policy Intern: Emma Klingler

Think Small’s first Todd Otis Public Policy Internship is underway. The internship is a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about Minnesota’s early learning policy and advocacy landscape. Todd Otis’ lifelong ...

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Policy Hour: Early Learning Coordination and Collaboration

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator March Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour focused on coordination and collaboration projects in the early learning field. Early Learning Council Dianne Haulcy, Senior ...

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Guest Post: Creating Equitable Early Learning Policies

Many organizations and individuals are seeking equitable policies and solutions to address persistent inequality. We can no longer support systems that created inequity and maintain inequity. By Voices and Choices ...

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Policy Hour: Previewing the 2018 Legislative Session

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Facts and speculation both made appearances at February’s Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour at Think Small in Minneapolis, and Sara(h)s abounded. Sarah Orange, ...

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Attend a Precinct Caucus and Submit a Resolution to Support Early Learning

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator On Tuesday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m., Minnesota will hold precinct caucuses around the state. They are the beginning of a process that ...

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Policy Hour - Early Childhood Data

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator January Policy Hour started with a special announcement: the event is now named the Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour. Ann served as the ...

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Policies in Play: Child Care Assistance Program Changes

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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About Todd Otis

Todd Otis’ lifelong advocacy career in Minnesota, and his work as a change-agent in early childhood, has had a significant and long-term positive impact on early childhood public policies, systems, ...

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Policy Hour - Improving the Early Childhood Workforce

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator December Policy Hour presenters shared information about state and national initiatives that are working to enhance and improve the early childhood workforce. ...

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Policy Hour - Changes to Child Care in Minnesota

  Staff from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) presented at November Policy Hour about the changes to child care in Minnesota. During the 2017 legislative session, many changes ...

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Children Experiencing Homelessness Benefit from Early Learning Scholarship Changes

Early Learning Scholarships allow children ages 3-5 from low-income families to attend high-quality early learning programs. During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers made a change to allow children 0-5 from ...

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Families First: Connecting Southern MN Children with Early Learning Scholarships

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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Policy Hour: Early Education Policy and Funding Changes

By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) presented at the first Policy Hour of the season. June Reineke and Amanda Varley ...

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Northeastern Minnesota Addresses Child Care Shortage

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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West Central Minnesota Child Care Providers Benefit from Forgivable Loans

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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The Triple Bottom Line of Child Care

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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Early Learning Scholarships Are Critical for Children in Child Protection

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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Policies in Play

Join us on the playground as we explore Policies in Play! Think Small believes that placing a priority on children and their families through access to high quality early childhood ...

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Seven Reasons to be Optimistic About Early Learning in Minnesota

By Todd Otis The benefits of giving children access to high-quality early learning have been proven beyond a doubt. Nobody has been able to dispute that targeted investment in quality ...

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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 ...

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Policy Hour: Parent Aware Changes & Legislative Update

The final Policy Hour of the season was a double dose of early education information! We heard about changes to Parent Aware and received an end of legislative session update. ...

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Legislative Wrap-Up: How did Early Learning Fare?

Minnesota legislators wrapped up the special session last week, and the Governor signed budget bills into law. Read about the new policies and programs that affect early learning throughout the ...

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A Legislative Update: Early Learning a Policy Priority for State

It is great that early learning is a policy priority for the state, and it’s encouraging to hear it continue to be discussed. In a year of $1.6 billion surplus, ...

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Policy Hour: Federal Updates on Early Learning

Field Representative to Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Dan Solomon, joined Policy Hour in May to provide updates on federal funding and policies that affect the early learning field. Sen. Franken ...

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Policy Hour: Power to the Profession Initiative

Early education is in the spotlight now. That was the message from Kathleen O’Donnnell, Executive Director, and Sara Benzkofer, Director of Policy and Communications, of MnAEYC-MnSACA. The April Policy Hour ...

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Policy Hour: Updates, Challenges and Bright Spots

Jim Koppel, Assistant Commissioner for Children and Family Services for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, spoke to Policy Hour attendees on March 7th.  He talked about the child care ...

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Public Safety Advocates and Retired Military Generals Push for Prioritizing High-Quality Early Education in Minnesota

Members of two national organizations say high-quality early education is a proactive solution to public safety concerns, and they’ve detailed their support of the issue in recent letters to Minnesota ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Happy Birthday, Blog!

We’ve moved up a few diaper sizes, mastered crawling, and are transitioning to solid foods and walking. This month marks one year since the start of the Think Small blog. ...

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Think Small’s 2017 Legislative Agenda

The 2017 Legislative session starts in less than one month. In preparation, Think Small created our policy priorities. The priorities all support our mission of advancing quality care and education ...

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December Policy Hour Looks Toward 2017 Legislative Session

December’s Policy Hour featured three early childhood lobbyists: Valerie Dosland and Patrick Lobejko of Ewald Consulting, and Sonnie Elliott of FaegreBD Consulting. We also heard from Ben Horowitz of the Minnesota Budget Project. Many ...

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Policy Hour Highlights New Federal Rules in Head Start and Child Care

New federal policy changes will affect the Minnesota early learning field. November Policy Hour featured staff from the state departments of Education and Human Services sharing updates about the changes.

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Minnesota PreK-3 Design Team Releases Statewide Recommendations

A new group of early education experts released recommendations for how Minnesota can best improve the early care and education landscape across our state, a key area of focus to ...

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Policy Hour Provides Updates on New Early Learning Legislation

The first Minnesota’s Future Policy Hour of the season focused on legislation passed this spring. The presenters provided updates on implementation of projects.

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Legislative Task Force Addresses Licensing

The Legislative Task Force on Access to Affordable Child Care discussed licensing requirements and enforcement at their meeting on September 21st. State and county officials provided insight into their roles and ...

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Voters Agree: Early Education is a Top Priority

By: Maya Fanjul-Debnam In this current political climate, tensions are running high between parties, and it appears as if there’s nothing we can agree on. Nothing that is, except early ...

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Leaders in Early Learning Bring Concerns to MN House Committee on Child Care

The Minnesota House Select Committee on Affordable Child Care held a hearing on July 19 at the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board office to hear from the community on child ...

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Poverty's Immense Impact on Brain Development During Childhood Explored

By: Maya Fanjul-Debnam More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, $23,550 a ...

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Learning Starts at Birth: Implications for a Lifetime

By: Maya Fanjul-Debnam From the moment they are born, children are learning from their surroundings. Everything from brain growth to approaches to life are shaped by what does—or does not–happen ...

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Policy Hour Breaks Down End of Legislative Session

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 ...

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Help Me Grow Hoping to Expand Scope in Minnesota

Kelly Monson, Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet Program Manager, talked about Help Me Grow at May’s policy hour. The purpose of Help Me Grow is to promote healthy development in children prenatal ...

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White Earth's Story: Building an Early Learning Landscape for Kids and Families

Fifteen years ago, families in White Earth, Minnesota didn’t have access to early learning programs. Families were lucky to get a spot in a Head Start program, one of the ...

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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). ...

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

By: 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 ...

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Macy's Story: Early Education at Age 2 Makes the Difference

Macy started her child care program at age two, with no previous early learning experience. Since then, she’s blossomed. She is now the star student of her program and completely ...

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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 ...

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

We 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 ...

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April Policy Hour Focuses on Compliance with Federal Requirements

The April edition of Minnesota’s Future Policy Hour featured leaders from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) discussing Minnesota’s response to the federal reauthorization of the Child Care and ...

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Modest Investment in Parent Aware Yields Big Benefits for Kids

By: 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 ...

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The Wisest Choices Minnesota Can Make for Early Learning

By: Barbara Yates, President and CEO of Think Small We’ve heard it before. If everything is your priority, then nothing is your priority. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell ...

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Make a Difference During Week of the Young Child 2016

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers and ...

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Parent Aware is the Backbone of Early Learning in Minnesota

Minnesota is grappling with a tough question: How do we best improve the early learning landscape in our state? It’s important to note that this question presumes an acceptance of ...

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Federal Education Policy Trends Examined at Policy Hour

Our March 1, 2016 Policy Hour featured Dan Solomon, Field Representative to Senator Al Franken. While congress has been rather unproductive as of late, Solomon shared some bright spots and ...

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Attend a Precinct Caucus and Submit a Resolution to Support Early Learning

On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at 7:00 pm, Minnesota will hold precinct caucuses around the state. They are the beginning of a process that Minnesota’s major political parties use for ...

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Minnesota's $900 Million Surplus is Opportunity to Invest in Kids who Need Help the Most

Minnesota Management and Budget released Minnesota’s economic forecast this morning, and the state’s surplus has decreased slightly to $900 million for the next budget cycle. The November economic forecast expected ...

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Early Learning Key Component to Closing Gaps in AAPI Community

Nationally, Minnesota ranks 46th for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) high school graduation and is home to one of the largest white-AAPI proficiency gaps for fourth-grade reading. A new ...

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CCAP, Early Learning Scholarships Key to Equity Conversation at #CYIB16

The 2016 Children and Youth Issues Briefing this week featured an important and inspiring conversation about the future of early learning in Minnesota.

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Think Small Announces 2016 Legislative Agenda

Think Small is dedicated to continue improving the early learning landscape across Minnesota, impacting the lives of children and the future of our state and starting with the children who ...

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Early Learning Scholarship Helps Prepare Child for Kindergarten

Meet Lisa Wilson. She is a single mother to a rambunctious 4 year-old. They try hard to make ends meet every month, but sometimes it just didn’t work out. Child ...

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Pheng's Story: Spreading the Impact of Parent Empowerment

This is the third in a series of videos showing the impact high-quality early learning has on children, families and child care providers across Minnesota. Check back here for a new ...

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Early Learning Scholarship Changes Bobbi's Family Forever

This is the second in a series of videos showing the impact high-quality early learning has on children, families and child care providers across Minnesota. Check back here for a new ...

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MN DHS Dives into New Federal Guidelines at Policy Hour

The first Minnesota’s Future Policy Hour of 2016 took place at Think Small’s Minneapolis office featuring leaders from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to discuss the re-authorization of ...

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Quality Child Care Impacts Karen Community in Minnesota

This is the first in a series of videos showing the impact high-quality early learning has on children, families and child care providers across Minnesota. Check back here for a new ...

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ESSA Signed into Law, Focuses on Early Learning

A new education law came out of Washington D.C. recently with strong bipartisan support. The new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, eliminates No Child Left Behind and brings back ...

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