High Quality Early Learning

Minnesota's next governor should secure sufficient resources to ensure all children have the opportunity to receive high quality early learning services. 

VISION: By 2015, Minnesota should double the number of at-risk children participating in a variety of high quality early learning settings by expanding funding for high quality child care and pre-school programs— offering at least another 18,000 at-risk children access to high quality early care and education services.

WHAT: Minnesota currently invests 1% of the state budget on early childhood care and education< services. Reaching an additional 18,000 at-risk children (ages 0-5) with high quality early learning opportunities would double that investment to 2% of the state budget. Additional funding would build on the existing diverse delivery system in early childhood, which includes child care, Head Start and school-based programs. WHY: Long-term investments in Minnesota’s youngest children will have far-reaching results for economic growth and future prosperity. At-risk children who participate in high quality early learning opportunities are more likely to succeed in school and become educated workers and citizens. Economic studies demonstrate that the return on investment (ROI) is as much as $12 for every $1 invested in the early years.

CURRENT SITUATION: Of the 353,901 children under the age of 5 in Minnesota, at minimum 14% or about 50,000 children can be considered at-risk based on their families’ income. Currently, we know at least 18,000 Minnesota children (ages 0-4) living in poverty participated in high quality services offered through Early Head Start and Head Start in 2008. Minnesota has a diverse delivery system of early care and education programs that stand ready to expand services and enhance quality to meet the needs of at-risk children.

IT’S A GOOD INVESTMENT: Economists say that investing in high quality early learning for at-risk children is the best investment we can make. Increasing Minnesota’s investment in early childhood is a smart use of resources and good public policy.