Policy Resource

Minnesota Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Feb 9, 2016

In December 2011, Minnesota was awarded a four-year Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant and proposed the following targets to improve its early learning and development (ELD) system.

The state proposed to:

  • Employ a variety of strategies to increase participation in Parent Aware, the states quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), such as school readiness scholarships and individualized coaching to help programs develop a quality improvement plan before joining the QRIS. The state also wanted to implement a new accelerated pathway to rating for Head Start, accredited center and home-based child care, and School Readiness programs.
  • Provide additional support and incentives to expand high-quality ELD opportunities to school districts receiving Title I funding in the Target Communities. Four communities that have high childhood poverty and significant community infrastructure on which to build have been identified as Target Communities.
  • Offer free and low-cost training toward the Minnesota Child Care Credential to cohorts of early childhood professionals working in Parent Aware-rated settings that serve a population of 25% or more high-need children.

As of 2013, Minnesota has made the following progress towards its proposed ELD system:

  • Currently, a 30-hour Infant-Toddler Certificate curriculum is under development, which will meet the training requirements for Parent Aware and qualify participants to meet the Minnesota Association of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Professional Endorsement at Level 1.
  • The Interagency Developmental Screening Task Force began developing an implementation, training, and evaluation plan to pilot online access to the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) and Ages and Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional (ASQ-SE). The online developmental screening tools will be available to public health, school districts, child welfare, home visiting, health care, and mental health providers.
  • Low-cost training around health and safety was provided to Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers to meet a new legislative training requirement that went into effect in November 2011 for legal non-licensed providers serving families receiving child care assistance. Seventy-six percent of children in FFN care in Minnesota are under the age of 3.
  • The Center for Inclusive Child Care expanded the availability of coaching, consultation, and technical assistance to early care and education providers who have children with special needs in their care. Intensive services are now available statewide. In addition, in 2014, Minnesota:
  • Began the development of an online needs assessment tool to help programs choose which assessment tool is right for their population and program structure.
  • Released Minnesota’s Knowledge and Competency Framework for Early Childhood Professionals in December of 2014 in three versions: for individuals working in Family Child Care, Preschool-Aged Children in Center and School Programs, and with Infants and Toddlers. Elements that make the documents unique include:
    • The integration of the Board of Teaching Standards and the competencies.
    • Identification of dispositions important for early childhood educators.
    • Collaborative work with Minnesota Association for Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health (MnAIECMH) resulting in the guiding principles of these documents and those of the MnAIECMH endorsement are closely aligned.
    • Foundational skills teachers need to support the development of home language as emphasized in the groundbreaking legislation known as Learning for English Academic Proficiency and Success Act (LEAPS)

Learn more about Minnesota and how other states are using RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREEs papers:

How Are Early Learning Challenge Grant Targeting Infants and Toddlers: http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/elc-it-article-for-baby-monitor.pdf

The Early Learning Challenge Grant Is Helping States Better Serve Infants and Toddlers: http://www.zerotothree.org/policy/docs/elc-grant-update.pdf

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