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Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan are committed to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have taken decisive action to curb the spread of COVID-19, support our health care providers and facilities, and mitigate the impact on Minnesota families. Please see the news alerts below to stay up-to-date.

Governor Walz, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan Announce Plan to Support Minnesota Children and Families

Budget package invests in schools, provides students with meals, mental health services, and academic support; Budget package also invests in paid leave, expands access to mixed delivery pre-K, child care, and Head Start

1/25/2022 12:24:07 PM

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced /governor/assets/Supporting%20Children%20and%20Families%20fact%20sheet_tcm1055-516325.pdfproposals to support Minnesota children and families in the Walz-Flanagan Budget to Move Minnesota Forward – the Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s supplemental budget recommendation for the upcoming legislative session. Today’s announcement follows the roll out of their plan to expand economic opportunity for Minnesotans and 2022 Local Jobs and Projects Plan last week.

“Since day one, we’ve been committed to making Minnesota the best state in the country to raise a family,” said Governor Walz. “That’s why we’re proposing historic investments in schools, child care, and paid family and medical leave. We need to ensure that, starting from birth, our kids are getting the world-class education they deserve and that our families are getting the resources they need to succeed.”

“Our first year in office, we fought to protect 4,000 prekindergarten seats across the state. Now, we’re working to expand prekindergarten for 23,000 kids,” continued Governor Walz.

“Our kids and families have endured losses big and small over the last two years – losses that came on top of an already existing child care crisis, opportunity gaps for Black, Indigenous students of color, and limited safety nets for family caregivers,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “We have an opportunity and an obligation to take action. By investing in schools, pre-K, child care, and paid leave, we will keep moving Minnesota forward with our plan to support children and families.”

Expand Access to Child Care and Pre-K
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan propose expanding public pre-K seats through a mixed delivery model requiring a combination of school-based programs, Head Start, child care centers and family child care programs. In total, this expansion could serve more than 23,000 eligible young learners and help to ensure ease of navigation and choices for families, as schools and communities work together to promote high-quality, cohesive early learning systems. The Walz-Flanagan budget also expands investment in early learning scholarships and improves child care access for Minnesota families by increasing child care assistance payment rates to the federal standard and ensuring stable ongoing increases tied to recent market rates. The budget includes funding to stabilize child care providers and programs experiencing extreme financial hardships as they continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget will also improve access to child care for Minnesota families by allowing the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program to provide help paying for child care to all eligible families and children and do away with waiting lists.

Invest in Paid Family and Medical Leave
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan propose a Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program to ensure Minnesotans do not have to make the unfair choice between a paycheck and taking time off work to care for a new baby or a family member with a serious illness. The creation of this program is necessary to support businesses, ensure more equitable economic opportunities for Minnesotans, retain more women in the labor force, and positively impact the lives of children. The Walz-Flanagan budget also supports working families with Earned Sick and Safe Time. The proposal would ensure workers can accrue up to 48 hours per year for when they need to recover from an illness, go to a medical appointment, care for a child during a school closure, or get care and assistance due to domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault.

Strengthen Schools and Support the Education Workforce
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan propose investing an additional 2% on the general education formula and reducing cross subsidies for special education and English language learners, providing flexible aid to give s school districts and charter schools the decision-making power to meet the unique needs of each student and school. The Walz-Flanagan budget creates educator pathways to address teacher shortages and recruit teachers of color and Indigenous teachers; establishes a Statewide Teacher Mentoring Program to support and improve experiences of professional educators; and expands the Grow You Own Teacher Training Programs to increase access to opportunities for people of color and Indigenous people to pursue a career in teaching. To reduce the burden for aspiring teachers, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor also propose covering the costs for the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam and teachers’ first Professional Teacher License and a teacher retention bonuses for those new to the profession. Additionally, the Walz-Flanagan budget proposes $15 million for education support professionals’ (ESPs, also known as paraprofessionals) training and development.

Ensure No Child Goes Hungry
To ensure no student goes hungry at school, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor propose a $183 million investment in the first year and 4% increases each following year to provide free breakfast and lunch to students attending any Minnesota school that participates in the national school breakfast and lunch programs. With growing numbers of Minnesotans turning to food shelves or utilizing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Walz-Flanagan budget proposes funding to invest in food shelves, food banks, and meal programs that provide nutritious food to Minnesotans. The budget also proposes funding to improve access and equity for Tribal and American Indian food programs, recognizing and promoting food sovereignty and sustainability.

Ensure Student Success for Years to Come
To boost reading proficiency statewide, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor recommend an annual allocation of $5 million to effectively implement Minnesota BOLD: A Birth through Grade 12 Action Plan for Literacy Achievement. The Walz-Flanagan Budget advances youth engagement and employment opportunities by investing $47.3 million to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate youth development, employment, and training opportunities. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor also recommend $5 million per year in to expand and sustain Minnesota’s full-service community schools grant program, which has been shown to improve graduation rates and student attendance and behavior outcomes. The budget recommends funding a pilot program to eliminate college application fees for undergraduate post-secondary applications at Minnesota’s public, private non-profit, and tribal colleges. To help Minnesota college students stay in school, the budget expands Emergency Assistance for Postsecondary Students (EAPS) grant program. Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan also propose establishing the Student Parent Center Grant program to help address the unique needs of current and expecting parent as they pursue their postsecondary goals.

Prioritize Mental Health and Wellbeing
The mental and social-emotional well-being of students is critical to their success both in and out of the classroom, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan recommend $77 million to address shortages of school support personnel services that benefit students’ social, emotional, and physical health. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s also propose a $6 million annual investment in School-Linked Behavioral Health Grants will address the increased need for community behavioral health services for both students and school staff. Additionally, the Walz-Flanagan budget recommends $9.983 million annually to enhance school-based mental health screening; $3.759 million to increase access to infant and early childhood mental health programs; and $26 million to support retaining, creating, and expanding inpatient mental health beds for children.

Ensure a Healthy Beginning for Every Young Minnesotan
To help end child homelessness, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s budget expands the successful Homework Starts with Home program into early childhood to prioritize prenatal to pre-K families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. The Walz-Flanagan budget also invests in healthy beginnings and early child development, including community solutions for young families; expanded access to doula care that is linked to better parental and postpartum outcomes; a child-centered navigation system called Help Me Connect that provides families with young children access coordinated, comprehensive, culturally relevant, family-centered services; creation of a new streamlined early childhood screening system to remove burdens for families; a collaborative to end infant mortality; and additional multi-sector approaches to improve outcomes within Black, American Indian, non-white communities of color, and communities in Greater Minnesota. The Walz-Flanagan budget also includes funding to provide children and youth under 21 with 12-month continuous Medical Assistance (MA) eligibility to reduce health coverage interruption that too often prevents Minnesota children from seeing a doctor when they need to, resulting in nearly 16,000 Minnesota children and youth per month keeping their health insurance.

Minnesotans from across the state also shared their support for Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan’s plan to support Minnesota children and families:

“If there is one thing that educators in every community are concerned about, it’s the mental health of their students after the trauma they have experienced during the pandemic. The lack of mental health resources for children has always been a problem but now it’s a crisis. The Walz-Flanagan budget recognizes this need and will make a meaningful improvement in lives of students and educators across the state. I’m looking forward to working with the governor and state legislators to make sure the resources go where they can do the most good,” said Denise Specht, President, Education Minnesota.

"We are excited about the Governors proposed new investments in Early Care and Education. We believe a mixed delivery system that sets high standards of care and that is available to all families equitably is key to moving Minnesota forward,” said Kraig Gratke, Executive Director, Minnesota Head Start Association. “The investments in early childhood mental health are much needed and will help children and programs work through the many forms of trauma they face every day. We see this as a win for the youngest most vulnerable children in Minnesota.”

“Minnesota cash programs have antiquated procedural requirements that too often destabilize families already in crisis,” said Barb Dahl, President, MACSSA. “The administration’s proposal to align public assistance programs follows nationwide best practices, creates equity across programs, will simplify and streamline county staff administrative work, and will encourage earned income and employment.”

“As young people continue to be impacted by this global pandemic, we are encouraged to see an investment in high quality afterschool and summer programs that will chip away at long-standing barriers to access faced by too many Minnesota families. Afterschool programs connect young people to caring adults, provide important workforce opportunities for older youth, and support working families. This budget recognizes the power of community-school partnerships to open doors of opportunity for young people across the state,” said Kari Denissen Cunnien, Executive Director, Ignite Afterschool.

“Governor Walz’s proposal today will once again make Minnesota a leader in supporting families with young children and the hard working child care providers who help care for and educate children during their most critical years of development. From the very beginning of this pandemic Governor Walz has led the nation with his support of child care providers and helping child care programs stay open to support the families who needed them,” Chad Dunkley, President of MCCA and CEO of New Horizon Academy. “Nearly one billion dollars in child care assistance will repair, finally, the damage done to this system two decades ago. These new child care investments will strengthen our child care system, help more families afford child care, and increase the supply of child care in our state.”

"We’re thrilled the Walz-Flanagan Administration is seeking the largest proposed increase for young children in state history,” Barbara Yates, President and Chief Executive Officer, Think Small. “Our parents, children, providers, and economy are in crisis, so we need to work on a bipartisan basis to pass this help just as soon possible.”

“The Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports Governor Walz's proposed investments in the health and wellbeing of our state's children and youth,” said Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, President, Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This bold package of initiatives strives for equity and addresses child and youth mental health, access to health care, and early childhood education and care, all priorities identified by Minnesota’s pediatricians.”

“Greater Twin Cities United Way has a long history of advocating for investment in our state’s littlest learners and pathways toward prosperity. I am really encouraged by the bold commitment to Minnesota’s future represented in Governor Walz’s budget proposal—one that centers the long-term wellbeing of our state’s youth as well as endeavors to remove cliff effects, which create barriers to upward mobility for countless families,” said Acooa Ellis, Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Greater Twin Cities United Way.

“We could not be more grateful to see a robust food security package in the Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s package for children and families,” said Colleen Moriarty, Executive Director, Hunger Solutions. “Universal meals is a way to take the burden off families and the way to make sure schools stay open. If we want to achieve educational opportunity for our students, we must ensure that children have the food and proper nutrition and ready to learn.”

“Minnesota will join 27 other states in providing 12-month continuous Medicaid/CHIP coverage for children. We know that eliminating the cyclical gaps in Medicaid coverage will increase access to preventive and primary care and to a reduction in preventable hospital admissions. This sound pro child-health policy also reduces the state's administrative costs associated with families moving on and off the Medicaid program,” said Lynn A Blewett, MA, PhD, Professor, Health Policy and Management at University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, Director, State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC).

“We are excited to see the Governor’s budget priorities aligning closely with our own whole child, whole family legislative agenda. These historic, bold, comprehensive, long-term investments are what our children and families are telling us they need to succeed and represent our best shot at a bright future for them and our state,” said Alisha Porter, Interim State Director, Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota. “This budget creates economic stability for children through significant new investments in childcare that give families choices; by ensuring hardworking parents can continue to provide for their families during a serious illness or the arrival of a child; with improvements in the way public systems work with families and reflect community-generated solutions; and by acknowledging that hunger, unstable and unaffordable housing, mental and physical health challenges create barriers to equal opportunity for too many Minnesota children, especially during their first critical years.”

“The pandemic has exposed historic underfunding of older youth. This is especially true and problematic for young people who have struggled to find their footing, such as system-involved youth. Governor Walz's budget is a step in the right direction toward supporting older youth and provides a significant investment in childhood nutrition through a universal meals proposal,” said Marcus Pope, President, Youthprise. “We are also pleased that investment in Out-School of Time activities is being reinstated, after nearly two decades of no state funding.”

“The Start Early Funders Coalition is very grateful to Governor Walz for his budget that centers Minnesota children, families, and communities. We appreciate the attention to addressing Minnesota’s child care crisis, both the challenges faced by providers and parents and the broader challenges to the economic health of the state,” said Denise Mayotte and Allison Corrado, Co-Chairs, Start Early Policy Committee. “We also appreciate the attention to the ongoing mental health crisis accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for children to get a great start before birth and in their earliest years. These issues are critical both for today and for the future of Minnesota.”

“The Governor's proposed budget reflects a much-needed and critical investment in some of our state's most marginalized children and families – children in foster care, those with disabilities, homeless and unhoused children and families, those with incarcerated parents, among others. It's a visionary budget that reflects where our state should be investing – our future,” said Rebecca Shlafer, PhD, MPH, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Children’s Cabinet Advisory Council Member.

“We are pleased that Governor Walz is taking action to support and strengthen Minnesota’s child care and early learning programs. Minnesota families and child care providers have faced enormous difficulty over the course of the pandemic, and it has shown us how badly Minnesota needs these investments. Affordable child care is essential to our economy and helps children and families survive and thrive,” said Nan Madden, Minnesota Budget Project Director.

“This monumental investment in the social determinants of health advances racial and health equity for all Minnesotans,” said Vayong Moua, MPA, Director of Racial and Health Equity Advocacy, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “The severity of our inequities warrants an investment of this magnitude. This package prioritizes upstream health, where our children and family live, work, play, and learn.”

“Too many families across Minnesota are struggling right now. Family home visiting is a proven, evidenced-based strategy to stabilize families and connect them to health care and community resources,” said Kathy Filbert, Family Health Division Director, Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health, Co-Chair, Minnesota Coalition for Family Home Visiting. “Our coalition believes it's important to give all families a healthy start and this proposal would be a vital boost to doing that.”

"The timing of these historical investments in children and families is critical. These investments will help families manage their daily struggles by building stability at home, in the workforce and in their community. I'm confident this budget will produce positive results for Minnesota's babies, toddlers and families," said Nancy Jost, Co-Chair, Minnesota's Prenatal to Three Coalition.

“Governor Walz’s proposed supplemental budget will ensure we keep showing up for one another—through these toughest of times—by stocking local food shelves, offering kids free school meals and tackling racial inequities in hunger,” said Allison O’Toole, CEO, Second Harvest Heartland. “Today, hunger is harder than ever to live with—as half a million of our neighbors face it alongside widespread illness and uncertainty. Second Harvest Heartland is grateful to the Walz administration for easing the burden and we stand ready to work with Minnesota’s elected officials to end the Covid-era hunger surge together.”

“Thank you, Governor Walz, the Children’s Cabinet, and all who have supported early childhood development for this dedicated financial commitment for the youngest Minnesotan,” said Gigi Chawla, MD MHA, Medical Director, Reach Out and Read Minnesota. “Through Reach out and Read Minnesota, clinicians will reach even more families of children birth-5yrs in every part of our state, to spread the science of building language, literacy, and bonding with the elegant simplicity of books and reading.”

“We are thrilled to see the Governor prioritize children and families in his budget. The past two years have shown just how important early childhood education is, but for many Minnesota families getting access is still a struggle,” said Alli Zomer, Director of Operations, Especially for Children. “Increased funding for programs such as Early Learning Scholarships and CCAP will allow more families to access high quality care. And it will allow providers to continue investing in our staff and programs.”

“As a locally owned educational child care center, Children’s Discovery Academy celebrates Minnesota investing in its youngest families who otherwise could not afford high-quality care. With over 40 years of experience, Children’s Discovery knows firsthand the advantage a child (and their family) has when they graduate our program, knowing they are socially, emotionally, and cognitively ready to thrive in their elementary years,” said Lauren Welch Lofrumento, Chief Operating Officer, Children’s Discovery Academy. “Increasing accessibility to these vital CCAP and Pathway 1 programs, eliminating CCAP waitlists, increasing reimbursement rates for families to afford high quality programs, and investing in our incredible teachers are all essential tools to help the youngest Minnesotans succeed in learning.”

“In this time of deep crisis for our mental health system, Minnesota’s children and families are demonstrating increased need for mental health care to live their best lives today and into the future. Mental health investments in Governor Walz’s budget are critical, including school-linked and service models designed to optimize access to mental health care,” said Kirsten Anderson, Executive Director, AspireMN.

“Now is the time for action for young people and Minnesota as a whole. As a council, we support increasing the access of student mental health and wrap-around services in and out of school in alignment with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Subcommittee. We promote supporting investment in teachers of color, early child care, and an education mixed delivery system through the Educational Equity Subcommittee. We support additional investment in out-of-school time and youth prevention support through the Juvenile Justice Subcommittee,” said Youth Leaders, Minnesota Youth Council. “We look forward to continuing to be a meaningful partner in ensuring equity for all Minnesotans.”

“I am blown away by Governor Walz’s budget proposal. Since School Readiness Learning Academy opened in 2009, we’ve been working for this major investment in our youngest learners. We have so many of our single parents, mothers and fathers, trying to figure out how to get their child care paid for, so this is huge for them,” Monique Webb Stumon, Director, School Readiness Learning Academy. “Our motto is ‘A better start for young minds’ – and with this proposal to invest in children and families, we will be able to fully live that motto. We can provide quality early learning for even more children in our community, sending them to kindergarten fully ready and prepared, which benefits all of us.”

“We received direct support grants at the beginning of the pandemic, totaling $8,500 per month. With those funds, I was able to raise wages for my staff. If Governor Walz’s budget proposal is adopted, and we continue to get $8500 per month, I could offer benefits to my employees, which would help me with hiring and retaining staff. I could also access mental health therapists for my kids and teachers because our kids and families have huge trauma from the pandemic,” said Nicole Flick, Owner, ABC123 Child Enrichment Center. “We can’t provide quality care without these resources and every child deserves quality care. If we have the mental health supports, and can provide higher wages and benefits, the quality of care we can provide increases tremendously. When Head Start closes or the public schools close, parents come to us, and nobody is helping us. If you want us to be here and provide care when nobody else can, we need to be publicly funded just like K-12 education.”

“Governor Walz’s budget proposal with extensive funding for child care would actually save our center. With the struggles of the pandemic, closing our center is something we have had to consider. This funding would allow us to stay open and pay our staff more,” said Debra Messenger, Office Manager, All Ages and Faces Academy. “Self-paying parents also find it challenging to pay. This funding would lower the costs for everyone. Fully funded CCAP is truly life or death for us, and we want to survive because not many African American run child care centers are available in Minnesota. We’re motivated to stay open by the need that our children and families have for high quality, culturally informed and inclusive child care and this funding would allow us to do that.”

“I am really excited about Governor Walz’s budget proposal because it will enable us to finally develop the system that we need to support our youngest Minnesotans and their families. One reason it has been challenging for parents to get back to work is because child care is so scarce. Centers have had to close because of the economic downturn. Some are having staffing struggles due to the pandemic and even before the pandemic the number of child care deserts in Minnesota was high,” said Kiara Zackery, parent, Golden Valley. “If we want to make quality child care available to every family, we need to support our centers, which then better supports our workers. This provides better access to all of our families that need help affording childcare, which enables us to truly provide the high quality care that our youngest Minnesotans deserve.”

“On behalf of the Voices and Choices for Children Coalition, we are delighted to see this historic investment in children and families in the Governor and Lt Governor’s supplemental budget proposal. In particular $10M per year for the Community Solutions Grant Program will benefit the healthy development of children of color, American Indian children, and children that live in greater Minnesota,” said Dianne Haulcy and Rinal Ray, Co-Chairs, Voices and Choices Coalition Steering Committee. “The inclusion of the Community Solutions Fund in this budget proposal rightly centers community identified issues and solutions at a time when the need is urgent and sets us all up for a brighter future.”

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