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Plan to coordinate children’s services

Published (4/10/2009)
By Kris Berggren
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The House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division likes a proposal to create an inventory of early childhood services.

The division approved HF2028, sponsored by Rep. Nora Slawik (DFL-Maplewood), as amended April 7 and sent it to the House floor. Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Mpls) sponsors a companion, SF1797, which awaits action by the full Senate.

The State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care would gather comprehensive information about health care, education and human services programs serving children age 5 and younger. It would suggest budget allocations toward outcome areas to help the Legislature and executive branch plan coordinated services.

“There have been efforts over the years to capture the information included in this inventory, but none as broad and detailed as this,” said Ready 4 K Government Relations Specialist Eric Haugee. He said that in particular, collecting data around geography and demographics as proposed would be useful for planning and budgeting.

Haugee said this new task for the council would dovetail with its federally required task to conduct a regular needs assessment of the same population.

Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) wanted to clarify the bill’s intention to identify program budgeting to outcome areas.

“We are trying to move towards priority funding here and zero-based budgeting,” said Slawik, so it’s important to link funding to outcomes the state agencies have prioritized.

Slawik intends the proposal as an adjunct to HF641, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Peterson (DFL-New Hope), to create an Office of Early Learning that would coordinate a high-quality early childhood system. That bill has been held over for possible inclusion in the division’s omnibus bill. Sen. Tarryl Clark (DFL-St. Cloud) sponsors its companion, SF487, which awaits action by the Senate E-12 Education Budget and Policy Division.

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