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Early childhood bill to floor

Published (4/29/2010)
By Kris Berggren
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Child care providers who want to improve their facilities, train staff or buy early learning curricula could benefit from $500,000 appropriated in the omnibus early childhood bill approved by the House Finance Committee April 27. The federal funds are intended to support providers to prepare for evaluation through a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System.

Approved the next day by the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill’s policy provisions will go to the House floor, independently or as part of the omnibus K-12 education bill, said Rep. Nora Slawik (DFL-Maplewood), who sponsors HF2760/ SF2505* with Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka).

The bill would also direct the governor’s early childhood advisory council to take up several tasks including:

• creation of an early care and education report card;

• a recommendation on how to screen and assess whether young children are developmentally ready for school;

• strategies to address the developmental needs of those children who may not be school-ready; and

• creation of an office of early learning.

The bill also incorporates HF3220, sponsored by Rep. Gail Kulick Jackson (DFL-Milaca), which would make it easier for teen parents to get child care funds re-authorized on the school calendar schedule. That change would help the young parents retain consistent child care so they can stay in school.

A provision that would cut $7.5 million in unexpended funds from the basic sliding fee child care program is expected to be included in the omnibus health and human services bill. The funds unused by counties to subsidize child care for income-eligible working families would ordinarily go to other counties with waiting lists for child care subsidies; however, this year they will be used to offset the General Fund deficit, Slawik said.

The Senate passed its version 53-12 April 19.

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