MN Faces Key Decision on Program to Reduce Child-Development Disparities
Thursday, May 11, 2023
A few years ago, Minnesota launched a pilot program to give communities of color more power to improve outcomes for child development as they continue to address long-standing disparities. Supporters hope for robust support as lawmakers decide on extending funding.
At this stage of the Legislative session, larger spending bills do include additional support for the Community Solutions for Healthy Child Development Grants. An example of the support being used is child care training to better serve Latino families.
Dianne Haulcy, co-chair of the Voices and Choices for Children coalition, a key coalition backing the grant initiative, said they have been seeing overwhelming demand as the first wave of funding expires.
"In this day and age, especially post-COVID, and a lot of the racial reckoning and not to mention the violence that's been happening in our communities," Haulcy noted. "Our communities of color are in desperate need of being resourced."
One spending bill includes $8 million for the program, while another sets aside $10 million for the biennium. Advocates argued the higher level would make a big difference given the need and the requests for aid.
Even with a large surplus, it's unclear if the full amount would be approved with many other funding requests before lawmakers.
In the long run, Haulcy pointed out having permanent funding will give communities greater flexibility to decide how to approach child development issues, especially since they already know what the challenges are within in their areas.
"Oftentimes, there are community and cultural solutions to these that only come from the community," Haulcy noted.
She suggested the model will go a long way in closing opportunity and achievement gaps while making communities stronger. Nearly two dozen local-level organizations were awarded grants during the pilot phase of the program.
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