2013 Legislative Session Review

Early Childhood Education

“If my son loses his child care, I’ll have to stay home and I’ll lose my job. If I lose my job, we’ll have to go back on welfare. I just don’t want that for my family.” —Ericka
Ericka, a proud mother of two young boys, testified at the House Early Childhood Committee on the threat the new absent day rule was to her family’s stability.
Wilder worked to provide access to high-quality early childhood education for low-income children by reinstating the 25 absent day rule and medical exemption.

Challenge

On January 1st, 2013, Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program reduced the number of allowable absent days from 25 to ten per year, and eliminated the medical exemption for children with chronic health issues.

Supporting Activities

  • Secured chief authors in both House and Senate after they visited Wilder’s Child Development Center (CDC).
  • Leading partner in the “Absent Day Coalition.”
  • CDC parent and staff testified in committee hearings and the Penguin preschool class visited bill authors and other key legislators.
  • Directly lobbied legislators and the Governor’s office.

Outcomes

Minnesota successfully reinstated both the 25 absent days and the medical exemption for children enrolled in the Child Care Assistance Program. The new law will go into effect February 1st, 2014.
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Children’s Mental Health Access

“Everywhere you go there is a child like mine that is in need of someone to say ‘I am here’ and ‘we can do this together.’” —Sonja
Sonja, mother of a Kofi graduate, testified to the Senate Health & Human Services Finance committee, in support of School-Linked Mental Health Grant funding.
Wilder focused on improving access to mental health care and building a system that better supports coordination of care between all the adults in a child’s life.

Challenge

Children’s mental health services are severely underfunded and poorly coordinated, often resulting in poor access and low quality care, especially for low-income children of color and immigrant communities.

Supporting Activities

  • Partnered with other members of the Mental Health Legislative Network.
  • Several Wilder staff and the parent of a Kofi graduate testified throughout the committee process and met with key legislators.
  • Successfully offered an amendment to include clinical trainees and educators in the care consultation coverage.

Outcomes

Minnesota passed a new public health insurance benefit for clinical care consultation, family treatment planning and family pyschoeducation.
Doubled the budget for school-linked mental health grants, which partially fund programs such as Kofi Services and Hlub Zoo, allowing expansion of similar programs and schools across the state.
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Housing Stability

Tasha faced many barriers in her life with a sense of strength and hope. After working with ROOF Project staff beginning in 2010, her life began to change for the better. The ROOF project, funded in part through the state supported Housing Trust Fund, seeks to stabilize families in need of housing and services.
Wilder supported the Homes for All legislative agenda in order to ensure stable housing for youth and families in Minnesota.

Challenge

The number of Minnesotans lacking stable housing has never been higher, and children are the fastest growing group among the 13,000+ Minnesotans who are without permanent shelter each night.

Supporting Activities

  • Partnered with over 80 organizations in the “Homes for All” coalition.
  • Joined Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services to launch a campaign to fully fund the Homeless Youth Act.
  • Wilder’s Family Supportive Housing Services turned out 30 people to the “Homeless Day on the Hill” to share their experience and expertise.
  • Extensive direct lobbying of both legislators and the Governor’s office.

Outcomes

The Homes for All Coalition secured over $33 million in new funding for affordable housing and homelss services.
Highlights included a 1,700% increase in appropriation for the Homeless Youth Act ($4.2m total funding), a 42% increase in homeless service dollars, and a 33% increase in funding for affordable housing.
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Friend & Family Caregiver Support

“That’s why we wanted to get involved—to take all the problems we’ve gone through as caregivers and all things we’ve learned in order to maybe help it be a little bit easier for other people going through this.” —Capacity to Care member
Marilyn was the primary caregiver for her aging parents for 13 years while also working full-time and raising her son. Marilyn wasn’t able to use paid sick leave to care for her parents, so she often found herself spending the night in the ER, getting home around 5:00 a.m. and heading into work at 7:00 a.m.
Wilder worked to expand the allowable use of paid sick leave beyond the care of minor children to include care for all family members.

Challenge

A growing number of people are providing long-term, unpaid care for older loved ones and are increasingly stressed as they try to balance their work and caregiving responsibilities.

Supporting Activities

  • Partnered with AARP and the Alzheimer’s Association of MN to pass this legislation.
  • Wilder’s Capacity to Care Community Initiative members met with key legislators and attended hearings on the personal sick leave bill.
  • Wilder Caregiver Services social worker testified to the House Labor Workplace and Regulated Industries Committee.
  • Directly lobbied legislators and the Governor’s office throughout the process.

Outcomes

Employees’ allowable use of personal sick leave has been expanded to include care for an adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, or stepparent.
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Wilder’s Voice - The 2013 Legislative Session

There were significant successes in all areas of Wilder’s legislative agenda.
12 Wilder staff, residents, and parents testified in legislative hearings a total of 16 times. Their stories and personal experiences had an immense impact on legislators.

Children’s Mental Health

“The coordination of care and the clinical case consultation with other providers allow children to have all the adults in their world on the same page—knowing what works for them, what triggers them, what helps and supports successful and safe development.”
—Excerpt from testimony by Alma Marquez, Kofi Services

Housing Stability

“We know how to fix this—we just haven’t decided to yet. So tonight, well over a thousand Minnesota kids will be out on their own.” —Excerpt from testimony by Kristine Martin, Wilder Center for Communities

Caregiver Support

“Congrats to our friends in Minnesota for expanding its existing kin care law! Sick days that are earned at work can be used to care for more than just kids now. I think this might be the most expansive kin care law in the country.” —National Partnership for Women and Families

Early Childhood Education

“This situation [with limited allowed absent days] has created another road block and we are hoping that you all, as wise investors, think of the long term investment in our children.” —Excerpt from testimony by Jeannie Foster, Wilder Child Development Center
 
Thanks to our coalition and community partners. None of this work was done alone.
For more information on Wilder’s Public Policy,please contact Patrick Ness at
patrick.ness@wilder.org or 651-280-2463