Child Focused Provisions in 2012 Minnesota Legislature


April 13, 2012

Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota is happy to report bi-partisan support for provisions to support Minnesota's children.

Pictured Top Right Senator Jeff Hayden and Representative Nora Slawik. 

Bottom Left: Representative Jim Abeler

Download Summary of Child Focused Provisions: Health and Human Services Omnibus Bills

Download PRESS RELEASE - April 16 - Minnesota Babies and Toddlers Visit Capitol to Thank Legislators for Child-Focused Bill Provisions

Child Focused Provisions:

Health and Human Services Omnibus Bills

April 13, 2012

 

The House and Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Omnibus bills make significant progress toward improving the well-being of thousands of Minnesota children. House File 2294 (Abeler) and Senate File 2093 (Hann) contain provisions to enhance the healthy development of infants and toddlers who are growing up in poverty, living without a safe and stable home, experiencing abuse or neglect, or being cared for by a mother with undiagnosed and untreated maternal depression. The following early childhood provisions will help change the trajectory of many children’s lives. As such, Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota believes that these provisions must be included in the final Conference Committee Report.

 

Provisions Positively Impacting Children

HF 2294

SF 2093

Child focused MFIP proposals

YES

NO

MFIP Mentoring Pilot Project

YES

NO

Asset Development and Financial Literacy Task Force

YES

NO

Uniform asset limit study

YES

NO

Visible Child Work Group

YES

NO

Prioritize children in efforts to end homelessness and improve outcomes

YES

NO

Restore absent days for all families receiving child care assistance

YES

NO

Restore absent days for children of teen parents in school-based programs

YES

YES

Maternal depression outreach at WIC clinics

YES

YES

Early intervention referral, monitoring and reporting

NO

YES

 

Children Receiving Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) Assistance

Minnesota’s public assistance program for families with children, the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), pays little attention to children, even though seven out of ten MFIP recipients are children; and nearly half (36,000 children) are age five or younger. As a result of experiencing significant environmental challenges, children receiving MFIP assistance are highly vulnerable to developmental delays. House File 2294 adds a child focus to MFIP by including several provisions:

·      Requiring the orientation session provided to new MFIP recipients to include information about the availability and benefits of early childhood screening, resources and programs

·      Allowing parents’ attendance at their child’s early childhood activities (including screening, referral and follow-up services) to be counted as work activity

·      Requiring MFIP employment and training providers and county agencies to post information about child development

·      Requiring job counselors to provide information about early childhood development and resources to parents during employment plan reviews

·      Adding a definition of “child well-being” to the MFIP Chapter

·      Changing the program name to the Minnesota Children and Family Investment Program

 

House File 2294 creates an MFIP Mentoring Pilot Project to help parents receiving MFIP assistance to make connections within their communities. Building upon the recommendations of the bi-partisan Legislative Commission to End Poverty and continuing the work of the Ladder Out of Poverty Task Force, the bill also creates a task force (Asset Development and Financial Literacy Task Force) to identify ways to increase household financial security and reduce asset poverty. Additionally, House File 2294 requires the Commissioner of Human Services to analyze asset limit program requirements and make recommendations concerning establishing a uniform asset limit for public assistance programs.

 

Homeless Children

Homelessness and its resulting trauma inhibit the development of children, and impact a child throughout the child’s lifespan. During the course of a year, nearly 20,000 Minnesota children experience homelessness; and half are age five or younger. Half of homeless preschoolers have a major developmental delay. House File 2294 requires the Interagency Council on Homelessness to make ending child homelessness and improving child well-being a priority of our State. The bill also 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. These provisions should help break the cycle of homelessness - one-third of homeless adults first experienced homelessness as a child.

 

Children and Families Receiving Child Care Assistance

In addition to helping low-income parents work and teen parents finish school, Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is often the only early learning opportunity many children experience. CCAP is frequently one of the first programs cut to balance the budget. Last session, legislation was enacted to cut the number of reimbursable absent days from 25 days to 10 days beginning on January 1, 2013. During a year, the average family using child care assistance misses far more than ten days of child care. The House bill restores the full number of absent days for all families receiving child care assistance, thereby ensuring continued access for children and parents. The Senate bill only restores absent days for the children of teen parents enrolled in school-based programs.

 

Maternal Depression and Early Childhood

Nearly one in ten new mothers in Minnesota experience postpartum depression in the year of their child’s birth, and low-income mothers experience depression at two to five times that rate. Approximately 7,000 mothers and 7,000 infants each year are at-risk of experiencing the harmful effects of maternal depression. Both House File 2294 and Senate File 2093 require the Department of Health to work with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition clinics to make available at WIC sites information about depression, its potential impact on children and treatment resources. It is estimated that WIC clinics serve half of all new mothers and their infants for at least some period of time.

 

Infants and Toddlers in Child Protection

Infants and toddlers who have been abused or neglected are among the most at-risk of any vulnerable children for poor developmental outcomes – more than half of children under the age of three who have been maltreated are at substantial risk of physical, developmental and emotional delays. Each year, Minnesota child protection agencies determine that approximately 1,000 infants and toddlers have been abused or neglected. Senate File 2093 clarifies in state statute that infants and toddlers who have been maltreated must be referred for an early intervention screening to determine if they are meeting developmental milestones. Early intervention can have a tremendous positive impact on a child’s development. The Senate bill also requires the Department of Human Services to monitor referral rates by county and report the information to the Legislature beginning in March 2014.
 

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