Sheltering Arms is an active member of the Start Early Funders Coalition, a coalition of 25 Minnesota funders focused on early childhood issues. Start Early helped to create MinneMinds, a statewide campaign to increase access to high quality care and education.
MinneMinds has successfully lobbied over the last six years for $140 million per biennium to fund scholarships to quality early childhood programs for low-income 3 and 4 year-olds and their younger siblings. Scholarship priority has been extended to highest need 0-2 year-olds, including children of teen parents, children experiencing homelessness, and children in the child protection and foster care systems. Home visiting has been increased by $12 million for the current biennium with an expansion to $33 million in the next biennium.
MinneMinds is planning the upcoming year’s policy agenda to make additional funding available to the 35,000 children not yet served; expanding funding for Parent Aware, Minnesota’s quality rating system for childcare; increasing home visiting funding; expanding funding for Child Care Assistance; and providing additional supports for the childcare workforce.
As an active member of Ignite Afterschool, Sheltering Arms supports the goal to address the afterschool opportunity gap by ensuring that an additional 25,000 Minnesota youth living at 185% of the federal poverty line have access to participate in high quality afterschool and summer programs. The Ignite Afterschool network estimates that a state investment of $25 million/year would provide this level of increased access.