Joint Senate Hearing Outlines Importance of Prioritizing Early Childhood Issues in 2023 Legislative Session

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Senate Education Finance and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a joint hearing Thursday on early childhood issues in Minnesota, featuring testimony and presentations from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, and the Greater Twin Cities United Way. The hearing illustrated the need for a robust investment in early childhood needs in 2023 according to Health and Human Services Chair Melissa Wiklund.

“Children’s experiences from birth to when they enter kindergarten are incredibly important for brain development and for success later in life,” said Sen. Wiklund. “We also know there are a spectrum of services for children and families throughout our state, spanning from education to childcare to healthcare, that touch on different parts of a child’s life. These presentations are vital to helping us as legislators understand what work is being done, and what work must be done to support early childhood.”

The hearing included presentations on the latest research on child development and details on the staffing crisis in the state’s the childcare industry. Additionally, the joint hearing discussed the Great Start Task Force report which outlined a state plan to accomplish the goal for “all families to have access to affordable, high-quality early care and education that enriches, nurtures, and supports children and their families.” The Task Force presented several short-term recommendations for implementation. 

“All of us share the same goals in making Minnesota the best place for our children and our families, and we know that the best way to do that is by providing the resources and support they need to succeed,” said chair of the Senate Education Finance Committee Sen. Mary Kunesh. “There is no greater investment we can make than the ones we make in our children, and this year we have an opportunity to make transformational changes in the lives of Minnesota’s children and families with a budget that focuses on their needs.”

Due to time, the hearing was unable to include a discussion on the Governor’s proposal for a new state Department of Children, Youth, and Families. However, a future hearing will discuss this proposal. 



Senator Melissa Wiklund
Melissa Wiklund represents District 51, which includes portions of Bloomington and Richfield in the southern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Mary K. Kunesh represents Senate District 39, which covers the communities of St. Anthony Village, New Brighton, Hilltop, Columbia Heights, Fridley, and a portion of Spring Lake Park.

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