Legislators aiming to increase early learning scholarships for Minnesota students

A bipartisan group of senators held a press conference this week increase introducing legislation aiming to increase early learning scholarships for Minnesota students. The legislators were joined by representatives from a number of early child education organizations, including Families First of Minnesota, Close Gaps by Five, Think Small, and the New Horizon Academy.

According to an analysis report made by several early childhood organizations in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Education, 16,536 children currently have access to high-quality early care and education, but an additional 33,000 children are without these crucial developmental opportunities as families prepare their children for kindergarten. The report further estimates that 80% of families with three- to four-year-old children, and 60% of families with zero- to two-year-old children living in households at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Line will take advantage of an early education opportunity.

The bill promotes equitable opportunities in early childhood education by funding home visits and pre-kindergarten schooling and helping to close the access gap to high-quality educational programs for low-income families. It also establishes clear eligibility standards for families looking to receive an early learning scholarship based on income level, while allowing exceptions for children in need of protection and services as well as children who are homeless. (SF 1306)