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Minnesota’s early childhood policies receive national comparison; paid leave and child-care support urged

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee received a report from national researchers comparing Minnesota’s early childhood policies against those of other states and urging action on paid family leave and child-care support.  

"Every child deserves a great start in life,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – St. Paul), chair of the committee. “Knowing where our state is falling short is critical to meeting that obligation. And now that we do know, it’s time to act boldly to close gaps and build a brighter future for all of us.” 

The report was presented by Dr. Cynthia Osborne, the Director of the Prenatal to Three Policy Impact Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She noted that Minnesota is doing well compared to other states in some respects, having adopted a number of the policies that evidence has shown to improve outcomes for children and their families.  

But Dr. Osborne indicated that Minnesota is falling short in several respects. In particular, she noted that the state has not implemented paid family leave, which would give parents and guardians time to welcome and bond with a new child. Evidence shared at the hearing shows that this policy would reduce Minnesota’s poverty rate, especially for less-educated, low-income, single mothers, among many other benefits for young children and their families. 

“Too many Minnesotans are being forced to choose between taking care of themselves or a loved one, and a paycheck”, said Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), chief author of the paid family leave bill in the Minnesota House and chair of the House Education Policy Committee. “Paid family leave is an economic issue that creates a pathway to a stronger and healthier state. The House Majority is committed to delivering solutions for our hard-working families to not only provide increased economic security, but better outcomes for our youngest learners.”  

At the hearing, Dr. Osborne also reported that Minnesota remains below federal guidelines in terms of child-care assistance for needy families, which she identified as an effective strategy for improving child well-being. She noted that 30 other states have made more progress than Minnesota in this area. 

Video of today’s hearing is available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel. More information, including documents from the hearing, are available on the committee’s webpage