CDF–MN Celebrates Legislative Victory for Minnesota Children

May 1, 2012

Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota (CDF-MN) celebrated a legislative victory for Minnesota children. On Monday, April 30, CDF–MN joined Governor Mark Dayton, Representative Jim Abeler, Senator David Hann, Representative Steve Gottwalt, Senator Tony Lourey, Senator Kathy Sheran, Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and Commissioner Ed Ehlinger at a ceremonial signing of the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill (House File 2294). Governor Dayton officially signed the bill on Saturday, April 28.  

The legislation, authored by Representative Abeler and Senator Hann, contains child-focused provisions that will help improve the well-being of Minnesota children. “We are thrilled that the bill includes three provisions developed by CDF–MN that will have a significant impact on the healthy development of infants and toddlers who have been abused or neglected, are homeless or have a mom suffering from undiagnosed and untreated maternal depression,” said Alexandra Fitzsimmons, legislative affairs and advocacy director of CDF-MN. The new law:

  • clarifies in state statute that infants and toddlers who have been abused or neglected must be referred for an early intervention screening to determine if they are meeting developmental milestones, and appropriates money to the Department of Human Services to monitor county referral rates and report the information to the Legislature beginning in March 2014;
  • creates the Minnesota Visible Child Work Group to build a framework for enhancing the well-being of children who are homeless, or have experienced homelessness: CDF–MN and the Visible Child Initiative of the Family Housing Fund (FHF) organized and worked in coalition with other partners to draft the Visible Child legislation including, Affirmative Options, Heading Home Minnesota, Hearth Connection, Lutheran Social Service, Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Simpson Housing, and Twin Cities United Way. CDF–MN and FHF will convene the Visible Child Work Group in the interim;
  • requires the Department of Health to work with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition clinics to make information about maternal depression, its potential impact on children and treatment resources available at WIC sites; and

In addition, the legislation includes a provision for which CDF–MN also advocated that restores the permissible number of reimbursable absent days for children of teen parents enrolled in school-based programs receiving child care assistance.

CDF–MN is happy that the needs of some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable children garnered more attention this legislative session. “We are pleased by the progress the passage of these early childhood provisions represent. Minnesota still has a distance to go before we take full advantage of what we have learned about the importance of early childhood experiences and well-being in adulthood, but the provisions signed into law today are important steps forward toward that goal,” said Marcie Jefferys, policy development director of CDF-MN. “Our children’s future and our state’s prosperity depend on what we do today,” said Jefferys.

Building on the foundation that has been laid this session, CDF–MN will bring its early childhood message to Minnesota communities this summer and fall. “During the interim we will be working to expand the voices speaking on behalf of our state’s youngest children. That way, when we return to the Capitol next session, we can advocate for an even more ambitious agenda to ensure all of our littlest Minnesotans have the best start possible,” said Fitzsimmons. “Today, however, is a day to celebrate!”

Learn more about CDF-MN's Zero to Three Research to Policy Project, including information on maternal depression; research on child neglect and abuse in Minnesota; and children in families receiving MFIP (MN Family Investment Program).