By Barbara Yates, President and CEO of Think Small
Today marks the re-launch of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, and I am excited about the possibilities it presents for our youngest children in the state.
A Children’s Cabinet is a mechanism that promotes collaboration and coordination across state agencies that work with children and families. It provides a place and structure to tackle some of the most difficult issues facing our children. Today Governor Walz signed an executive order establishing the newly designed Children’s Cabinet.
All too often, efforts like the Children’s Cabinet have lofty missions but little impact. Governor Walz’s announcement about the focus of the Children’s Cabinet makes me excited and hopeful that this time will be different. There is a real opportunity to make progress for our youngest children, and I am thrilled to support that effort. With the re-launch today, here’s what energizes me about the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet.
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan will co-chair the group. This is a first in Minnesota. With the state’s chief executive at the helm, there is no mistaking that children will be a priority for this administration. And no excuses–commissioners and stakeholders will have the leadership to step up to solving important challenges so all children in Minnesota can succeed regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or zip code.
With skillful leadership and accountability measures based on results, this Children’s Cabinet can take on big problems. One large challenge of improving lives for Minnesota’s youngest children is that no single department addresses all their needs, and no one legislative committee funds all the efforts. By bringing together commissioners from across state government, the Governor has all the levers to support efforts that are working and to promote needed changes in the system.
The cabinet can bring focus to equity and closing the achievement gap. By placing our most vulnerable children at the center of this work, the Children’s Cabinet has a real opportunity to improve the trajectory of children. This will in turn help our communities thrive and lead to better outcomes for all children as well as ensure our economic vitality into the future.
An emphasis on accountability is another important part of this re-launch. Children depend on us to provide environments where they thrive. We know how well we’re doing this by setting goals and measuring outcomes. We can take bold action and assure we achieve the results we want.
At Think Small, our mission is to advance quality care and education for children in their crucial early years. We stand on the result of children being ready for kindergarten. Think Small’s contribution is to ensure high-quality early care and education is available and accessible. Think Small commits to doing this by championing policies and practices of equity that empower a just, inclusive, and equitable care and education system for children in their crucial early years. Our results-based accountability framework allows us to align our strategic plan to this work and to the work of others, like the Children’s Cabinet. This is another reason we’re excited about the re-launch of the cabinet.
Sound overwhelming? Maybe. But the work we need to do for children to succeed is steeped in research and is doable. Complicated at times, but doable. We need to collectively put our efforts and resources together to accomplish bold results. Our youngest children urgently require it. With the kind of leadership the Governor is proposing, we have the framework to move forward. If we stay focused on the needs and development of our children, make sure that parents have the information and choices they need to support their children, and ensure that our resources are efficiently and effectively used to achieve our goals, we will be successful in making sure all of our children are successful.