Starting today, Minnesota will be kicking in more money to help under served areas of the state get access to better child care.
Back in June, Gov. Mark Dayton earmarked $2 million in one-time funding that will partly go towards free training for certain child care professionals.
The plan under the Parent Aware program continues a free option for providers to learn new tools and improve quality.
Cory Woosley, professional development director for Child Care Aware of Minnesota, says the free training assistance also can help ease the burden on families that are looking for affordable but high quality child care options.
“Our goal there is to increase the number of under served populations, whether it’s inner city, whether it’s a language, whether it’s rural or some of our lower-income counties, we really want to make sure that we’re meeting those children’s needs,” she stresses.
Under the new funding, Child Care Aware also will offer more than 30 free training sessions for providers.
Targeting the achievement gap
Supporters of the program say it will help narrow Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gaps for young students.
According to recent data from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), about 70 percent of white students passed math and reading tests, compared with only about a third of black students.
Woosley argues that by increasing the quality of early childhood care through training, Minnesota could start to close those gaps.
“The research shows that you need to have good educated, trained professionals to have good outcomes for children,” she states. “And we need to make sure that we’re letting those kids go out into a safe and educational and fun place.”
A survey this year from the Wilder Foundation shows almost a third of Minnesotans age six or younger do not have access to preschool or early child care.