SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today the Minnesota House passed the Health and Human Services conference committee report on a vote of 69-64. The children and families portion of this budget report invests nearly $2 billion over four years in affordable and accessible child care and early learning, shelter and dignity to those experiencing homelessness, food security, economic supports for families, and system reforms including a new Department of Children, Youth, and Families.
“Every child deserves a great start to life,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-Saint Paul), chair of the House Committee on Children and Families and author of the bills. "The historic investments in this budget will prioritize Minnesota children, for the benefit of all of us."
Child care and early learning is in deep crisis in our state after decades of underfunding - unaffordable for families and paying poverty wages to caregivers. This budget, along with an early learning budget that passed the Legislature last week, makes historic investments in this critical sector, including early learning scholarships for thousands of low-income and vulnerable infants and toddlers, increased reimbursement rates and access under the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), expanded Head Start, and "Great Start" compensation support payments for teachers.
The conference committee report also incorporates much of the Pathway Home Act - historic levels of funding to ensure that homelessness in Minnesota is rare, brief, and nonrecurring. This includes $100 million to expand and renovate shelters, as well as over $150 million for shelter operations, transitional housing, and support for youth experiencing homelessness and exploitation.
“This budget is about making Minnesota the best state in the nation for children and families. This budget bill is inspired by the people and places who are asking for change, because the status quo hasn’t been working well for a very long time,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “Families are paying as much or more than their monthly mortgage payment for child care. Businesses cannot hire employees because it’s more cost effective for a parent to stay home than work full time. I want to thank Chair Pinto and Vice Chair Keeler for putting together a budget that makes bold investments in our children, our families, our child care providers, and our economy. This budget will help to ensure that all Minnesotans have the opportunity to succeed.”
House DFLers are prioritizing economic assistance for families in the budget with improvements to the Minnesota Family Investment Program, including allowing families to remain on the program for six months, rather than needing to renew monthly, and assessing eligibility based on forecasted income rather than past earnings, which may not reflect current needs. The budget also contains grants for diaper distribution, food security, and kinship services to help children in the welfare system remain with relatives. Much of this funding is established in partnership with Minnesota's Tribal nations, honoring their sovereignty.
“Investing in food insecurities, ending homelessness, and protecting our kids in the child welfare system are ways that we will support a future generation that can thrive in Minnesota,” said Rep. Heather Keeler (DFL-Moorhead), vice chair of the House Children and Families committee.
In addition to these specific areas of funding, the conference committee report builds for the future through systemic reform. It invests in IT and other system infrastructure and creates a Department of Children, Youth, and Families, to place children at the center of state government. The budget heads to the governor for his signature.