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Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson met with local and statewide leaders this morning in Moorhead to discuss proposals in Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget that give every child in Minnesota an opportunity to succeed.
Poverty, domestic abuse, and other unsafe conditions put thousands of Minnesota children at risk of being knocked off the track of safe and healthy development before they have a chance to get started. Dayton’s budget includes proposals to increase access to quality child care, help more children find permanent homes, prevent child abuse and neglect, and assist parents, particularly teenage parents, complete their education and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
“Healthy children and families are the cornerstone of what makes Minnesota a great place to live,” said Jesson. “One of our top responsibilities at the Department of Human Services is to ensure that every child in Minnesota has an opportunity to succeed. The governor’s budget addresses the total needs of children, from safety at home to early education, to ensure that they are in the best position to get a good, strong start at life.”
Dayton’s human services budget proposes several investments in children for the 2014-2015 biennium, including $22.9 million that will allow 7,500 additional children to attend quality child care so that they arrive prepared to learn in kindergarten; $2.6 million to create Northstar Care for Children, a streamlined state program to help more children in foster care find permanent homes; $4.5 million for the statewide expansion of the Parent Support Outreach Program, which will prevent neglect through early intervention services provided to an estimated 9,600 children; and $13.6 million to support strong employment outcomes for families who turn to the Minnesota Family Investment Program.
Participants in the roundtable at the Clay County Family Service Center were Barb Fabre, director of child care and early childhood programs for White Earth Nation and a member of the Governor’s Early Learning Council; Alexandra Fitzsimmons, legislative affairs and advocacy director for Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota; Rick Harvala, district coordinator for the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition and member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Moorhead; Joe Pederson, executive director of Lakes & Prairies Community Action Program; and Rhonda Porter, director of Clay County Social Services.
More information on DHS’ “Safe and healthy development of children” initiative is available on 2013 session fact sheets webpage.