Gov. Walz proposal for Minnesota kids and families | www.WDIO.com

Gov. Walz proposal for Minnesota kids and families

WDIO
Updated: January 25, 2022 06:12 PM
Created: January 25, 2022 05:50 PM

Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced proposals Tuesday, to support Minnesota children and families. The 'Walz-Flanagan Budget to Move Minnesota Forward' is a supplemental budget recommendation for the upcoming legislative session, which begins on Monday.

"Since day one, we've been committed to making Minnesota the best state in the country to raise a family," said Governor Walz. "That's why we're proposing historic investments in schools, child care, and paid family and medical leave. We need to ensure that, starting from birth, our kids are getting the world-class education they deserve and that our families are getting the resources they need to succeed."

Here is the proposal's breakdown:

Expand Access to Child Care and Pre-K

Expanding public pre-K seats through a mixed delivery model requiring a combination of school-based programs, Head Start, child care centers and family child care programs. In total, this expansion could serve more than 23,000 eligible young learners, and help to ensure ease of navigation and choices for families. The Walz-Flanagan budget also expands investment in early learning scholarships and improves child care access for Minnesota families, by increasing child care assistance payment rates to the federal standard and ensuring stable ongoing increases tied to recent market rates. The budget will also improve access to child care for Minnesota families by allowing the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program to provide help paying for child care to all eligible families and children and do away with waiting lists.

Invest in Paid Family and Medical Leave

Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program to ensure Minnesotans do not have to make the choice between a paycheck and taking time off work to care for a new baby or a family member with a serious illness. The Walz-Flanagan budget also supports working families with Earned Sick and Safe Time. The proposal would ensure workers can accrue up to 48 hours per year for when they need to recover from an illness, go to a medical appointment, care for a child during a school closure, or get care and assistance due to domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault.

Strengthen Schools and Support the Education Workforce

Investing an additional 2% on the general education formula and reducing cross subsidies for special education and English language learners, providing flexible aid to gives school districts and charter schools the decision-making power to meet the unique needs of each student and school. The Walz-Flanagan budget creates educator pathways to address teacher shortages and recruit teachers of color and Indigenous teachers; establishes a Statewide Teacher Mentoring Program to support and improve experiences of professional educators; and expands the Grow You Own Teacher Training Programs to increase access to opportunities for people of color and Indigenous people to pursue a career in teaching. To reduce the burden for aspiring teachers, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor also propose covering the costs for the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam and teachers' first Professional Teacher License and a teacher retention bonuses for those new to the profession. Additionally, the Walz-Flanagan budget proposes $15 million for education support professionals' (ESPs, also known as paraprofessionals) training and development.

Ensure No Child Goes Hungry

To ensure no student goes hungry at school, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor propose a $183 million investment in the first year, and 4% increases each following year, to provide free breakfast and lunch to students attending any Minnesota school that participates in the national school breakfast and lunch programs. The Walz-Flanagan budget proposes funding to invest in food shelves, food banks, and meal programs that provide nutritious food to Minnesotans. The budget also proposes funding to improve access and equity for Tribal and American Indian food programs, recognizing and promoting food sovereignty and sustainability.

Ensure Student Success for Years to Come

To boost reading proficiency statewide, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor recommend an annual allocation of $5 million to effectively implement Minnesota BOLD: A Birth through Grade 12 Action Plan for Literacy Achievement. The Walz-Flanagan Budget advances youth engagement and employment opportunities by investing $47.3 million to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate youth development, employment, and training opportunities. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor also recommend $5 million per year in to expand and sustain Minnesota's full-service community schools grant program, which has been shown to improve graduation rates and student attendance and behavior outcomes. The budget recommends funding a pilot program to eliminate college application fees for undergraduate post-secondary applications at Minnesota's public, private non-profit, and tribal colleges. To help Minnesota college students stay in school, the budget expands Emergency Assistance for Postsecondary Students (EAPS) grant program. Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan also propose establishing the Student Parent Center Grant program to help address the unique needs of current and expecting parent as they pursue their postsecondary goals.

Prioritize Mental Health and Wellbeing

Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan recommend $77 million to address shortages of school support personnel services that benefit students' social, emotional, and physical health. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor also propose a $6 million annual investment in School-Linked Behavioral Health Grants will address the increased need for community behavioral health services for both students and school staff. Additionally, the Walz-Flanagan budget recommends $9.983 million annually to enhance school-based mental health screening; $3.759 million to increase access to infant and early childhood mental health programs; and $26 million to support retaining, creating, and expanding inpatient mental health beds for children.

Ensure a Healthy Beginning for Every Young Minnesotan

To help end child homelessness, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor's budget expands the successful Homework Starts with Home program into early childhood to prioritize prenatal to pre-K families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. The Walz-Flanagan budget also invests in healthy beginnings and early child development, including community solutions for young families; expanded access to doula care that is linked to better parental and postpartum outcomes; a child-centered navigation system called Help Me Connect that provides families with young children access coordinated, comprehensive, culturally relevant, family-centered services; creation of a new streamlined early childhood screening system to remove burdens for families; a collaborative to end infant mortality; and additional multi-sector approaches to improve outcomes within Black, American Indian, non-white communities of color, and communities in Greater Minnesota. The Walz-Flanagan budget also includes funding to provide children and youth under 21 with 12-month continuous Medical Assistance (MA) eligibility to reduce health coverage interruption that too often prevents Minnesota children from seeing a doctor when they need to, resulting in nearly 16,000 Minnesota children and youth per month keeping their health insurance.

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