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 of children in their crucial early years.

When it comes to addressing Minnesota’s severe opportunity gaps, we know starting early is effective.

The single best investment the state can make is targeted early childhood investments in our most vulnerable children.

Minnesota has done some great work around early education, and Governor Dayton has been a champion for the cause. However, many children still do not have access to high-quality care. Children who enter kindergarten unprepared are less likely to achieve third grade reading standards, less likely to graduate high school, and less likely to ever attend college. They are more likely to drop out of school and more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

At Think Small we will continue our work to help these children and their families. Think Small’s advocacy will build upon the momentum of significant investments in early care and education and will support policies that:

1. Prioritize increased access to high quality early care and education for children with high needs
2. Increase support for early learning professionals, and
3. Effectively close the opportunity gap.

Following this framework, Think Small’s priorities for the 2017 Legislative Session are to:

  • Increase the number of Parent Aware rated programs and allow programs to maintain or improve their Parent Aware ratings
  • Better align public funds to increase the number of children receiving high quality early care and education
  • Expand access for children, ages 1 to kindergarten entry, from families with low incomes to high-quality early care and education programs by advocating funding for flexible, parent-directed scholarships
  • Improve Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to assure more children from families with low incomes can access high quality care
  • Support the sustainable career pathways of early learning professionals

Throughout the legislative session, Think Small will educate policy makers and the general public about the value of high quality early childhood education in a model driven by family choice and a variety of delivery options to best meet the needs of children and families.

Click here to see the entire Think Small 2017 Public Policy Priorities document.