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We recently interviewed Amber Pierce, artist, entrepreneur, and graduate of The Family Partnership’s Parenting for the Future (PFF) home visiting program, about her experiences with TFP’s 2Gen programs. Amber joined us with her three children, sitting near two of Amber’s recent artworks, including a large collage and acrylic painting of Simone Biles. In this piece, Biles’ stares straight ahead in concentration, and her strong legs are stretched out to the sides as if in flight. Amber’s daughter, Aadon, was seated in front of the painting with her face just inches from the canvas when she turned to say with a smile, “That’s my mom’s art.” Later, we mentioned this moment to Amber who laughed and said, “To them, I’m the biggest thing ever.”

Watching Amber with her children, she appeared confident and completely present in her interactions with them. But that was not always the case. In 2018, Amber had Aadon, who was two at the time, and found out she was pregnant with twins. She said, “I felt like I didn’t have any of the things I needed.” She was overwhelmed and lacked childcare and support. A social worker mentioned The Family Partnership and Amber reached out for help. Amber has struggled with depression since she was young and sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury in a car accident in 2006. As a result, Amber struggles with routine and consistency in her daily life.

Iman Omer, Parent Educator in Parenting for the Future, began working closely with Amber and her children in 2022, providing support and services following a two-generation (2Gen) approach. A 2Gen approach serves both the needs of children as well as the needs of their parents and caregivers, recognizing that both are essential to moving a family forward. As one of TFP’s 2gen programs, PFF works with parents who have cognitive limitations that affect their parenting. The program provides parenting education, community resources, and joint activities for parents and children so they can connect and strengthen their relationship. While working with the parents on their parenting skills, parent educators also work to make sure that the children are developmentally on-track.

Iman visited Amber and the children weekly in their home and used the Circle of Security Curriculum, an 8-week course to help parents and caregivers connect with their children. Iman and Amber did a lot of parenting education work together, too. When Iman introduced the Circle of Security to Amber, they discussed the importance of understanding and meeting her kids’ physical and emotional needs. This includes providing a secure base to support their exploration and providing a safe haven to welcome them back. Amber was always comfortable with welcoming her kids back and providing that safe haven but she struggled with supporting their exploration. Specifically, she didn’t always enjoy certain activities with them, such as going to the park, because she was exhausted. Iman worked with Amber to set up a plan and routine that would allow her to get rest and feel energized so that she could enjoy outdoor activities with her kids. This is the type of concrete guidance that Amber found to be especially helpful.

Iman worked with Amber to build a supportive environment for her family. She connected Amber with a cleaning service, helped find preschool care for the twins, and supported Amber in finding a therapist through The Family Partnership. In addition, Amber attended the bi-weekly parenting support group. Parent Educators facilitate this group for parents, foster parents, and caregivers participating in TFP programs and is an opportunity for participants to connect and support each other.

The parenting group was an outlet for Amber to get out of the house with Aadon which gave them both a sense of routine. With Amber’s cognitive challenges, routine is very helpful. The family participated in activities and field trips with other families in the parenting group, which Amber found to be very beneficial in terms of consistency and social interaction. The support group also provided families with resources, a meal, and activity time. TFP staff provided free childcare on site, allowing Aadon, and eventually the twins, to connect to other children. It also allowed Amber and other parents to connect with each other. She said that this support was essential for her, and it gave her children a mom who had a long-term support system.

Today, Amber has gained confidence in her unique skills and role as a mother. She described her mental health and cognitive differences as “different wiring,” and that “it’s been important to honor my neurodivergence. I’ve not always been successful working a 9-5 job, so, I went into entrepreneurship…I’m always looking at ways to advance myself.”

Amber’s career has grown out of art which has always been a passion for her.  She attended an arts and communications magnet school and later graduated from the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Amber found her voice working through her mental health issues and neurodivergence and creating art. “Art is an innate outlet for me.”

Amber uses collage and acrylic paints to create her pieces. She said she starts with a vision board and then “pours her intentions into the piece.” She asks herself, “Why am I creating this and what energy do I want to capture?”

Today, Amber has created an LLC called Creation Elevation and is working with a business coach. She hopes to continue to grow as an entrepreneur and would also like to include her family in her creative and entrepreneurial work.

Amber shares her story with others because she wants people to understand that “Neurodivergence is a wide spectrum and that people who struggle still want to make an impact on others.” She hopes to get rid of the stigma associated with mental health challenges and the need for support. She’s also vocal about the role that The Family Partnership played in her journey so far, “It gave my children kind of the peace of having a mom that had a support system and, for my mental health, to be able to parent them was really important to have that resource for me.” Amber’s experiences is just one example of how a 2Gen approach benefits the entire family.

If you or someone you know would benefit from our Parenting for the Future program and our 2Gen approach, you can find more information on the program’s webpage.

The Family Partnership is working with the Minnesota Department of Revenue to help spread the word about the new tax credits for individuals and families.  

Even if you do not have to file a Minnesota income tax return, you can still file to get tax benefits. There are five credits you may be able to claim that may help you pay less taxes and get a bigger refund. 

1. Minnesota Child Tax Credit  

If you have children, this tax credit can lower the amount you owe or give you a refund. 

Am I eligible for the Minnesota Child Tax Credit?  

You may qualify if: 

How much is it?  

The maximum credit is $1,750 per child under age 18 and there is no limit on the number of children.  





2. Minnesota Working Family Credit 

The Minnesota Working Family Credit gives tax relief to people whose income is below a certain level. This can reduce the amount you owe in taxes or give you a bigger refund. 

Am I eligible for the Working Family Credit? 

You may qualify if: 

How much is it? 

If your earned income is $8,750 or more, the credit depends on the number of qualifying children: 





3. K-12 Education Credits 

Have you bought school supplies for your kids in kindergarten through high school? Save the receipts! There are two K-12 Education Credits that can result in savings for you.  

Last year, more than 17,500 families received the K-12 Education Credit and saved an average of $282. Over 138,000 families received the K-12 Education Subtraction with an average savings of $1,285. 

Am I eligible for the K-12 Education Credit or Education Subtraction? 

You may qualify if: 

What counts for this credit? 

Here are some examples of things that count: 

Are there income limits for these credits? 





4. Property Tax Refunds for Homeowners 

If you are a homeowner, you might qualify for a property tax refund. 

Am I eligible for property tax refunds? 

There are two types of property tax refunds for homeowners: 

Unlike the regular refund, there is no income limit to claim the special refund. 

You may file for the Property Tax Refund on paper or electronically by August 15. You have up to one year after the due date to file. 





5. Property Tax Refund for Renters 

If you are a renter and your household income is less than $73,270, you may qualify for a property tax refund for renters.  

What do I need to claim the refund? 

You may file for the Property Tax Refund on paper or electronically by August 15. You have up to one year after the due date to file.  






You may also qualify for free tax help! Find free tax preparation information.

This information can be found in summary on our Minnesota Tax Credits page. You can also reach out to the Minnesota Department of Revenue for more information and help:  

Minnesota Department of Revenue 
Phone:  651-296-3781 or 1-800-652-9094 
Website:Minnesota Department of Revenue 

This service made available through a grant provided by the state of Minnesota. 

The Family Partnership recently kicked off a new series called “TFP Talks,” meant to provide unique, in-depth information on topics related to our mission and to strengthen our collective impact through thought, practice, and policy leadership. We called this event the “Minnesota Miracle” and focused on Minnesota’s nation-leading Spring 2023 legislative session wins for children and families, especially those living in low-income households. 

We welcomed speakers Erin Bailey, Assistant Commissioner of the Children’s Cabinet, Minnesota Management and Budget, and Arthur J. Rolnick, Associate Economist at the University of Minnesota, who presented with Dianne Haulcy, President and CEO of The Family Partnership, to discuss key wins and how community members can sustain and expand impact in the months and years to come. 

Read on to learn three key insights from TFP Talks: The Minnesota Miracle.

1. Minnesota’s investments in children and families yields public and private benefits 

Arthur J. Rolnick has been called a “folk hero of the movement” to expand investments in early childhood education. For over thirty years Rolnick has championed the Minnesota Model for Early Childhood Education, an early childhood intervention designed for long-term impact and high public returns. The model’s basis includes supporting parents and caregivers as early as prenatal care through home-visiting nurses and mentors, as well as scholarships for parents and caregivers to select high-quality early childhood education programs. 

During TFP Talks, Rolnick cited the 1962 Perry Project to provide concrete evidence of what an investment in high quality early childhood education can do.  

Decades after the study began, The Perry Project showed that investments in early childhood education programs led to benefits for children and children of the children including: 

According to Rolnick, the most impactful investments in early childhood must start early and the programs must be high-quality. Programs must prioritize children and families facing racial and economic barriers. In addition, family home visiting programs are essential to provide support to parents and caregivers as they guide their children’s education and development.  

2. Minnesota’s 2023 spring legislative session made history and national headlines 

For decades, Erin Bailey has believed passionately that children and families must be centered in government and that we need make systems easier to navigate for families. According to Bailey, the 2023 legislative session did just that, delivering on the promise of the Walz-Flanagan administration to make Minnesota the best place in the U.S. to raise a family. 

Bailey presented some of the wins for children and families from the 2023 legislation that passed: 

These investments will directly help families experiencing the most barriers in our communities and have garnered national attention and praise. Former President Obama addressed the results of the 2023 Minnesota State Legislature saying, “These laws will make a real difference in the lives of Minnesotans.” 

3. The Spring 2023 state legislative session supports generational healing for children and families in Minnesota 

Dianne Haulcy is a long-time children and families advocate who has direct knowledge of how these investments will impact the lives of families in Minnesota–especially those TFP serves.

Of the individuals and families that TFP serves: 

Children and families who participate in TFP’s programs will be directly and significantly impacted by the programs and funding from this legislative session. 

Dianne highlighted the following: 

Child Tax Credit 

Childcare Accessibility 

Childcare Worker Compensation 

Housing Access and Affordability 

Family Home Visiting 

How our community can sustain and expand impact in the months to come 

At the conclusion of our discussion, the speakers offered their thoughts on how community members can sustain this momentum and build on it to continue to support children and families in Minnesota.  

The legislation passed last spring will make a tremendous difference for children and families living in poverty. However, as Haulcy mentioned, nearly all families struggle to pay for childcare—families with more than one child can pay over 50% or more of their income in childcare.

The proposal to ensure that families would not pay more than 7% on childcare did not pass in 2023, but advocacy efforts are continuing in 2024. All presenters agreed low-income families had to be prioritized but hoped middle-class families will see more relief in the future.  

Bailey noted that Minnesota will need to implement these programs and ensure that the funding reaches its targets. She said that the state plans to work with counties, tribal governments, and community organizations to guarantee success. Bailey also said that it is important to work with leaders and advocates like The Family Partnership that have a solid understanding of what families truly need. Data is important but stories are important too, because stories show how real people experience these wins. Without both, we cannot fully understand the impact of the landmark Spring 2023 legislative session in Minnesota. 

To learn more about upcoming opportunities for advocacy, follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and X, or sign up for our newsletter

The community health fair began in 2022 when there was an Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) outbreak during the summer. Men having sex with men and people exchanging sex for money were at the highest risk for infection. The PRIDE team at The Family Partnership found that most people did not know about the outbreak or how to get treatment. 

Jake Woodward, PRIDE case manager, talks about the Community Health Fair

The PRIDE team worked with the Minneapolis MPox Task Force and M Health Fairview in conjunction with the Minneapolis Department of Health to host clinics in November and December 2022 for the Mpox vaccine. Those clinics turned out to be a good way to connect people to resources and health care, in a neighborhood where it was needed, and within an organization with trust.

Jake Woodward, the coordinator from PRIDE, knew this fair needed to provide more than just information. He wanted to make sure there would be direct services, connections, and items that people need. With that in mind, Jake worked with the other organizations to set up the Community Health Fair. 

The Family Partnership continues to host the Community Health Fair monthly and more organizations have joined. 

Organizations involved

Services and resources available 

Blood pressure screenings, haircuts, and dental varnish are sometimes available as well. 

Items Available 

Community Health Fair Impact 

The Community Health Fair has been successful in getting people connected to care and support. At one of the first clinics, a person came in and completed a housing assessment. A month later, they were moving into housing. People have tested positive for HIV and STIs and then connected to service providers for ongoing care. People have been able to connect to PRIDE to make use of the drop-in center and those not eligible for PRIDE have been connected to other programs that can help depending on their needs. Some people have been able to get a phone to use as a backup when they are in unsafe situations. 

The Community Health Fair has strengthened relationships between service providers as well. Outreach staff from different organizations have been able to locate clients they are working with who may have been hard to find due to frequent encampment closures. PRIDE connected with with health outreach staff from Hennepin County which led to PRIDE having access to an on-call nurse. 

The Community Health Fair has had a big impact on members of the community and the organizations who serve them.  

The next Community Health Fair is on 12/5/23 from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 1527 E. Lake St. Minneapolis, MN 55407.  

The Community Health Fair will continue in 2024. Visit our events page to find the dates once the schedule has been set.

We would like to introduce Jackie Perez, the Vice President of Community Programs who joined The Family Partnership in May of 2023. Jackie leads community programs including anti-sex trafficking services through PRIDE and Family Home Visiting programs. We asked Jackie to introduce herself and to share her vision for the programs she oversees. 

Tell us about your background and what drew you to The Family Partnership.  

Hello! My name is Jacqueline (Jackie) Perez and I have been working in the nonprofit field for 17 years now, 8 of those as a program administrator. I am originally from Los Angeles, California and I come from a Central American immigrant family – my mom is from Guatemala and my dad is from El Salvador.  

I was the first in my family to graduate high school and, growing up our family faced numerous struggles including financial instability, racism and other forms of discrimination. Fortunately, my parents were extremely supportive of me, and I had a few people in my life that guided and supported me along the way as well, which got me to where I am today.  

I obtained my BA in Education with a Sociology minor from California State University, San Marcos in 2006 and an MA in Health and Human Services Administration from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2012. My personal experiences growing up left me with a desire to help others struggling to get by, which heavily influenced my career path.  

Throughout my years in the nonprofit sector, I’ve had the opportunity to take part in extensive DEI training and I’ve spent the greater part of my career supporting and advocating for BIPOC, migrant, refugee, LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized and underserved communities.  The Family Partnership’s reputation precedes it in the nonprofit world, given the amazing work the organization has done over the years so, when I saw there was an opening that I felt was a good fit for me, I jumped at the opportunity! 

How do you see your role as Vice President of Community Programs? 

It is also important for me to stay abreast of our ever-changing landscape. Change is constant and this means that it is important for me to stay informed and be aware of changes in the communities we serve, as well as changes in our participants’ needs, and to ensure we continue to provide culturally responsive, gender-affirming services.  

I believe it is my job to ensure that all the teams and programs under my umbrella have what they need to do the wonderful work they do! It is my job to support them by advocating for the populations we serve, communicating the needs of our participants to funders and policy makers, and by highlighting the significant impact our services make.

Jackie Perez, Vice President of Community Programs

Lastly, I am here for whatever my teams need. I believe in leading with an open mind and an open heart and I understand the importance of my teams’ health and well-being, so they can continue to support our communities. The work that we do is not easy, so it is important to remember to always put your own oxygen mask on first, before assisting others! 

This month, we are highlighting The Family Partnership’s anti-sex trafficking services through PRIDE as part of Give to the Max 2023. What made the biggest impression on you when you first started working with PRIDE? 

Definitely the team! Although all of my teams work hard, the PRIDE team is unique given the work that they do supporting survivors of sexual exploitation. This particular population has been used, abused and forgotten, and they are wary of others as a result. This means that building relationships takes time, patience and understanding, which can be a lot for one individual.  

However, the PRIDE Team works like such a well-oiled machine, not just supporting participants, but also each other. They have wisdom beyond their years, they are kind, and they are compassionate. They treat every single participant with the utmost respect and really, truly meet each participant where they are, and I hope they know how appreciated they are! 

What do you want people to know about the PRIDE program? 

I want people, not just potential participants, but partners, funders and policy makers, to know that we don’t just “talk the talk” at The Family Partnership, when it comes to anti-sex trafficking. We mean it when we say we meet people where they are, we mean it when we say everybody is welcome in our space and we mean it when we say we are here to disrupt demand and change systemic factors that lead to sexual exploitation and abuse.  

We believe that, in order to make progress towards ending commercial sexual exploitation, we need to address both, systemic racism and economic inequities and we are here and willing to do that work! 

Every dollar given between now and midnight on November 16th will be DOUBLED to help survivors of sexual exploitation in Minneapolis through PRIDE.

What are your goals for the programs you support? 

My goals for the programs I support are as follows: 

  1. To ensure we are able to provide top-notch services to all of our program participants. 
  1. To ensure staff have what they need, so they can focus on what matters most – the people we serve. 
  1. To successfully embed a 2Gen Approach into all of our programming, to ensure families have complete access to the services and resources they need in order to “build health and well-being” for generations to come! 

What would you say the number one priority is in the coming year? 

The number one priority for us in the coming year is to get fully staffed. We have some new Family Home Visiting programming with Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). Our Healthy Families America program is partnering with NAZ’s doula program, which will help address health inequities for Black pregnant people during pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. This partnership makes sure that families receive culturally-competent support as early as possible. 

We were also recently awarded a Promising Practices Grant, which will provide additional support to The Family Partnership so that we can expand our home visiting services. So, we are looking to hire two new family home visitors focused on providing services to families in our preschools, North Minneapolis Preschool and Four Directions. 

Our PRIDE program is also growing, so we are looking to hire a Mobility Mentor, a Case Manager and a PRIDE Therapist.   

There is lots of growth happening with The Family Partnership’s community programming, and I encourage anyone who wants to be part of our amazing team to review the current open positions and consider applying! 

This year we are raising $10,000 for Give to the Max in support of anti-sex trafficking services through PRIDE. Your gifts between now and midnight on November 16 will be DOUBLED up to $7,500. Click here to make a donation! 

Give to the Max Day is Thursday, November 16, 2023! This year we’re raising $10,000 to help survivors of sexual exploitation in Minneapolis. 

You don’t need to wait until the big day to make a difference. Any gift that you give between now and midnight on November 16 will be DOUBLED up to $7500, thanks to a generous matching donation from Allina Health Aetna

$32 helps open the doors of PRIDE’s drop-in center to people of ALL ages, genders, and sexualities 

Did you know that it costs just $32 to offer a week of anti-sex trafficking services through PRIDE for someone in the life? In 2024, we know that hundreds of people will visit our drop-in center for essentials like: 

These resources are not regularly available for many who are involved in commercial sex work. But thanks to your gift, people of all ages, genders, and sexualities can find rest and care through PRIDE. 

Your gift also helps to fund long-term case management for people who are navigating a winding road toward healing and growth including legal advocacy, support groups, transitional housing, and a crisis line. 

Your gift helps people like Emma to know they’re not alone 

Your gift for Give to the Max Day helps people like Emma, who first came to PRIDE when she was involved in the life of commercial sex work in Minneapolis seven years ago. 

Back then, Emma already had the potential to leave the life, live sober, reunite with her child, find stable housing, and pursue a college education. But she lacked one important thing that all the resources in the world could not give to her: Emma lacked belief in herself. 

Emma did not yet believe that she deserved to imagine a better life—or that she had the power to make that life a reality.  

Even though Emma was hesitant, she took a life-changing step when she walked through the drop-in center doors of PRIDE. There, Emma met case managers who never gave up on her and provided steady support and resources for each stage of her journey toward healing and growth. Emma stayed motivated through her many ups and downs with long-term case management and support groups. 

On the day when she learned to believe in herself, the resources available to Emma through PRIDE took root—and she began to bloom. 

I now know my worth and what I deserve.

Emma, PRIDE participant

Today, Emma is celebrating over two years of sobriety, living in a stable home, attending college, and working toward reunification with her child. Her mental health has significantly improved, and she recently told us, “I now know my worth and what I deserve.” 

Now through midnight on November 16th, your gift is DOUBLED! 

Emma’s story is just one of many, and your gift can be the difference for the next person who walks through our drop-in center doors. 

Now through midnight on November 16th 2023, you can make DOUBLE the impact this Give to the Max Day. Help to cover a week of services for community members in the Twin Cities who have experienced sexual exploitation to claim safe, vibrant, and self-sufficient futures.  

All gifts will be matched up to $7,500 between now and midnight on November 16, 2023, but only if you give! 

If you have ever exchanged sex for cash, drugs or shelter, you are welcome to visit the PRIDE drop-in center. If and are looking for a safe place to rest, take a shower, have a meal and connect with others, the PRIDE program can help. Our drop-in center in south Minneapolis is open most weekdays but hours may vary. There is no cost to you. 

Tour of the PRIDE Drop-in Center

Who We Are 

The PRIDE program has been around for over 40 years. We serve all people, no matter the age, gender or sexuality. We serve those with a history of sexual exploitation and those who are at risk.  

Our staff come from different cultures and have different lived experiences. There are men on staff so that male survivors can see themselves reflected in the PRIDE space, and to give participants of all genders a chance to build healthy relationships with men.  

Our staff work together to connect with you in meaningful ways. 

If you’d like to come just to shower and leave, we welcome you. If you’d like to stay all day and be around friendly faces, we welcome you. If you’re in danger and need somewhere safe, we welcome you. If you need long-term support, we welcome you. Whether you feel like you’re ready for change or just want to make it through the day, we welcome you, without judgement and ready to meet you where you are. 

What We Do 

You may have seen PRIDE staff doing outreach on the streets but there is also a drop-in center near E. Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue. 

At our drop-in center, you will find: 

You can take a 30-minute shower and take a nap. You can do up to two loads of laundry and take two donated outfits at a time from the clothing closet.  

A staff person is always available, so you can get what you need and feel welcomed and supported. 

Some of the services and resources we provide: 

Our approach to case management puts you in charge. You set your goals and PRIDE staff provide support and guidance when requested. You can change your life and staff can walk alongside you as you work toward those changes. 

What To Expect 

During our drop-in hours, you will enter the building and let the front desk know you are there for PRIDE. The front desk will then let PRIDE staff know and a staff member will come to meet you. Staff will introduce themselves and then make sure you are eligible. This is only to keep the drop-in center safe and confidential. 

Once in the drop-in center, staff will ask for some information to get to know you better and find out what you need. Once this short intake process is complete, you are welcome to use the space. 

Spots can fill up fast. If you come to the drop-in center and it’s full, staff will bring you some basic supplies and a snack. They will also let you know when space may be available. 


If you are in crisis, contact the Minnesota Day One® Crisis Hotline: 

Call: 1-866-223-1111 

Text: 612-399-9995 

For more information on the drop-in center or PRIDE’s services, call us at 612-729-0340. 

North Minneapolis Preschool’s recent graduation ceremony marked an important threshold in the lives of two young scholars, Miles and Zayvior. On one side are their earliest learning experiences; on the other, a lifetime of learning. After all, many studies show that children who have a strong foundation for learning in their early years are more likely to achieve success in school, work, and life. 

The ceremony happened on a hot August afternoon, with the boys dressed in blue caps and gowns, surrounded by proud family members and staff, cupcakes and balloons. Zayvior and Miles listened as Cassaundra Davis, Preschool Director, reflected on their roles as leaders in their early learning community. “They were big contributors to their classroom. They were kind of the big brothers here, and I know they will be missed by the kids and by the teachers as well. And I know nothing but great things are going to happen for them.” 

They were big contributors in their classroom. They were kind of the big brothers here, and I know they will be missed by the kids and by the teachers as well. And I know nothing but great things are going to happen for them.”

Cassaundra Davis, Director of North Minneapolis Preschool

North Minneapolis preschool celebrates graduation

Preschool graduation is more than a celebration for children and their families, because early learning matters for entire communities. Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child even calls early childhood education “the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society.”   

In an equitable world, every young child would access quality early learning opportunities and enjoy this kind of ceremony. For now, there is still work to do to make that dream a reality. 

Preschool graduation is more than a celebration for children and their families, because early learning matters for entire communities.

Opportunity gaps begin in early childhood 

The truth is that opportunity gaps existing in Minnesota make that reality out of reach. Minnesota has the second worst racial inequities in the nation when it comes to economic opportunities and outcomes and those inequities begin in early childhood. According to an article published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, “disparities in social and economic conditions and health care access influence” school readiness, and “data suggest early-life inequalities like these are difficult to close.” 

The reason why early childhood is so important to later success in life is due to the lightning-fast pace of brain development in our first years of life. Our brains are shaped by our experiences and research has shown that to be particularly true from the prenatal period through age five. When young children experience adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including abuse, neglect, or family dysfunction, these experiences impact their brain development, which then impacts the executive functioning and self-regulation skills needed for success in learning environments.  

The impact of ACEs goes beyond the household to include systemic expressions like racial and economic injustice. According to a recent study published in the According to a recent study published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, there are a “myriad of consequences linked to racial discrimination” for Black youth in particular that include “decreased psychological, behavioral, and emotional functioning.” Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child notes that multiple studies show the impacts of racism on children and caregivers including higher stress responses, heavier mental health burdens and worse health outcomes. 

In Minnesota, African American and American Indian adults have three times the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scores of their white peers. While 7% of white adults report 5 or more ACEs, 19% of African American and Black and 23% of American Indian adults reported the same. 

It is important to recognize that systemic racism has led to different access to resources in our communities which impacts living conditions as well as the physical and mental health of all members of families. The connection between systemic injustice and ACEs cannot be ignored. 

In recent years, systemic inequities were made worse in Minneapolis by the COVID-19 pandemic and the trauma associated with police brutality. State data shows that the age-adjusted excess mortality rate from COVID-19 was significantly higher for Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native Minnesotans than white Minnesotans. And in the the week following George Floyd’s murder, more than 51% of Black Minnesotans reported feeling anxious or depressed compared with 29% of White Minnesotans. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) explains how direct and vicarious trauma from police brutality leads to “downstream effects” on Black Americans, including: 

Since 2020, the communities served by The Family Partnership have experienced increased food scarcity and higher rates of violent crime. Additionally, families experienced increased isolation and uncertainty navigating multiple years of a public health emergency, and young children lost opportunities for learning and socialization outside of the home. Young children entering preschool in Minneapolis today were born in this context and face greater developmental challenges than before. 

Addressing racial disparities in early education can lead to bigger social change now and in the future 

Even with these heavy realities, research has shown that high quality childcare and preschools can help to buffer children against ACEs and close opportunity gaps. John Everett Till, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation for The Family Partnership, says, “The issue is always–do families have access to high quality early education? For many Native American and Black families, the answer to that question is ‘no.’” 

The Learning Policy Institute identifies the following factors as some essential elements of quality programs: 

North Minneapolis Preschool graduates Miles and Zayvior don their caps and gowns in preparation for their graduation ceremony, with support from Cassaundra Davis, Preschool Director.

Research has shown that high quality childcare and preschools can help to buffer children against ACEs and close opportunity gaps.

The Family Partnership is committed to addressing the roots of opportunity gaps through early childhood education and care, meeting the standards outlined above. But our efforts go beyond them as well. Our preschools, Four Directions and North Minneapolis Preschool, prioritize small class sizes with highly trained teachers who reflect the diversity of the students and families we serve. Both of our locations are in neighborhoods experiencing the greatest disparities. We also provide developmental assessments to identify any challenges children might be facing and provide access to onsite developmental therapies, dental and vision screenings as well.  

We use a groundbreaking preschool curriculum that buffers against ACEs and prepares children for kindergarten success 

Our preschools are some of the first programs in the nation to implement our Executive Function Curriculum, a two-generation toolkit to build lifelong resilience and focus. Executive function skills are the number one predictor of success in school, work, and life, but can be disrupted by ACEs and toxic stress. Our curriculum is designed to reduce the harmful effects of trauma and close opportunity gaps for young children so they can better fulfill their potential. 

With evaluation support from Harvard Center on the Developing Child and the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota, our curriculum has demonstrated a significant impact on executive functioning skills like emotional descriptive language, positive age-appropriate behavior, and storytelling. 

Our curriculum is designed to reduce the harmful effects of trauma and close opportunity gaps for young children so they can better fulfill their potential.

Our teachers receive training on the curriculum and ongoing support to make sure that it is easy and practical to use. Beginning this fall, parents and caregivers will also utilize the curriculum in a special home-visiting format that gives children more opportunities to build their skills. Thanks to the power of brain science and strong partnerships between teachers and parents, children in our preschools flourish. 

What does preschool success look like? 

Preschools prepare children to enter kindergarten, the beginning of their formal education. So, success for preschool is most often defined as kindergarten readiness. 

A child is kindergarten-ready as defined by the State of Minnesota when the student has “knowledge and skills across multiple development and learning areas and will exhibit physical health and emotional well-being.”

According to an article published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), kindergarten readiness skills look differently for every child based on their unique experiences. The State of Minnesota includes the readiness of communities, early childhood care and education, elementary schools, and families as essential parts of a child’s success in school.

The Family Partnership uses established measures to assess each child’s progress in our preschools. Assessments align with Minnesota’s early childhood indicators for progress and include the following learning domains:

We are thrilled to report that in 2023, 100% of the students at our North Minneapolis Preschool and our Four Directions Preschool in South Minneapolis tested kindergarten-ready. That’s compared with a 60% Minnesota state average kindergarten readiness rate, and 52% kindergarten readiness rate for children from low-income households. 

Congrats to the graduating class of 2023 from North Minneapolis and Four Directions Preschools who graduated 100% kindergarten ready this year!

We’re proud of the young scholars who graduated from our preschools this summer. We congratulate each young scholar on their hard work and trust that they will bloom in kindergarten and beyond! They and their families are part of a generational healing movement in Minneapolis and leaders in showing how early education can be a powerful force for advancing equity in Minnesota. 

To learn more about how our preschools use the Executive Function Curriculum to buffer against ACEs and prepare for school success, click here.

For President and CEO Dianne Haulcy, the Minnesota State Legislature’s 2023 spring session marked a breakthrough for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) and care. “In over 30 years of work have never seen anything like it,” Haulcy said. “In fact, it’s getting national attention–especially in states focused on reducing child poverty and helping children, youth, and families.” 

In over 30 years of work have never seen anything like it. In fact, it’s getting national attention–especially in states focused on reducing child poverty and helping children, youth, and families.” 

Dianne Haulcy

Investments include $559.13 million in the coming fiscal year to address longstanding ECE workforce shortages in Minnesota that worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that we all experienced in real time the importance of having a solid early childhood care and education system to support our workforce. Therefore, thanks to increased funding, ECE workers and students will find improved access to education, professional development, and compensation as early as this summer. 

If you’re an ECE professional, student, or considering a profession in the field, check out seven highlights from the spring session that you should know about. 

1. The Great Start Compensation Support Payments program will improve ECE worker wages 

$316.1 million for FY24-25, $259.7 million for 2026-27 

The Minnesota state legislature established the Great Start Compensation Support program in May 2023 to provide permanent increased monthly compensation and benefits for ECE workers. According to Child Care Aware of Minnesota, the program builds off two 2021 grant programs, The American Rescue Plan Act and Minnesota’s Child Care Stabilization Program. 

According to Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet, this program “will help recruit and retain child care workers, improve child care access for families across the state and support the broader workforce and economy.” This support is essential to the early childhood workforce. Without this support, Lead Teachers in the Twin Cities Metro Area make a median salary of just $29,786 while Assistant Teachers earn a median salary of $27,169–significantly less than the $37,536 cost of living for a single person household. 

To aid in the transition, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is offering transition grants to eligible providers. For more information on eligibility, deadlines, and allowable uses of funds for Great Start Compensation Support Transition Grants, visit the DHS webpage. Note that transition grant applications for August are due August 22, 2023, and for September by September 22, 2023. 

  • Empower to Educate 
  • Child Care Aware MN 
  • The workforce development grant (Empower to Educate) to support economically challenged individuals to being a career in child care ($1.995 million per year) beginning in 2025 

2. The Early Education Wage Scale will provide early childhood workers with compensation that equals elementary school educators 

$1 million wage scale development, $68k cost estimation model of care 

In May 2023, the Minnesota Department of Human Services received funding to create a cost estimation model of care for early childhood programs. DHS will use this new cost estimation model to set provider rates for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) that equal elementary school educators. According to Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet, this law will also develop a “process for recognizing competencies achieved through training and experience that are comparable to degrees and credentials.” 

What does this mean for early childhood professionals? Your education and experience will more easily support a higher rate of compensation and benefits. Whether you achieve a degree in early childhood education, participate in an apprenticeship program, or engage in hours of training on the job, you’ll be building toward a stronger salary. 

This law benefits early childhood professionals as well as families, because it incentivizes an experienced early childhood workforce. For more information on wage scale recommendations, check out the Great Start for All Minnesota Children Task Force Report

3. Grow Your Own will raise up early childhood educators who represent the children in their classrooms 

$2.5 Million FY24-25, $1 Million ongoing 

The 2023 Spring state legislative session expanded funding for Grow Your Own (GYO) to the early childhood field. Prior to this, GYO programs in Minnesota focused on recruitment of K-12 teachers to ease “local teacher shortages and…increase racial and linguistic diversity of the teacher workforce.” This funding provides Grow Your Own funding for  building and expansion of programs that help individuals attain a Child Development Associate degree, Associate’s or  Bachelor’s in early childhood, family education, or early childhood licensures. 

If you plan to pursue a higher education degree in early childhood, keep your eyes on the GYO grant program. You may qualify for grant funding to pay for stipends, tuition scholarships, or student teaching. When more information becomes available, we’ll be sure to share it with you. 

4. Increased funding for REETAIN expands access to bonuses for early career ECE professionals 

$4.28 Million FY24-25, $900k per year ongoing 

Minnesota legislators have approved an increase in funding for the Retaining Early Educators Through Attaining Incentives Now (REETAIN) program. According to Child Care Aware of Minnesota, REETAIN provides bonuses that “help supplement income for early childhood educators as they work to establish a career in the field.” Early childhood educators working in centers and family settings may qualify, and can be used for both professional and personal expenses. 

For more information on eligibility and the application process, visit Child Care Aware of Minnesota’s REETAIN page

5. T.E.A.C.H. provides scholarships for college credits and degrees in early childhood 

$695,000 per year  

Child Care Aware MN established T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Minnesota scholarships in 2002 to for early childhood educators to “increase their levels of education, compensation, and commitment to the field by earning college credits and degrees.” For qualified applicants, T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships can fund several parts of your education: 

In 2023, Minnesota state legislators voted to continue funding for T.E.A.C.H. If you’re a family or center care provider, you may be eligible for a scholarship that covers costs for education. If you receive a scholarship, you’ll be asked to commit to at least a year of work at your place of employment after the scholarship ends. 

According to Child Care Aware of Minnesota, scholarships will fund “college credit or an associate or bachelor’s degree in Child Development or Early Childhood Education at an accredited Minnesota college or university.” You might also be eligible if you’re part of Empower to Educate, earning fewer credits, or completing your CDA trainings at an approved institution. 

You can use T.E.A.C.H. scholarships to pay for: 

For more information on the scholarship, including eligibility and the application process, visit Child Care Aware of Minnesota’s T.E.A.C.H. page

6. Early Childhood Registered Apprenticeship Grant Program will provide on-the-job training and mentoring opportunities 

$3.2 million in FY24-25, $2 million ongoing 

The May 2023 Minnesota state legislative session also gave funding to the Minnesota Department of Human Services to establish an early childhood apprenticeship program. Qualified apprentices can receive a higher education scholarship of up to $10,000, with the following provisions: 

Are you already an early childhood provider? You’ll want to keep your eyes on this program. The apprenticeship grant also offers mentors stipends of up to $4,000 per mentor. Mentors can qualify for this stipend after eight weeks of training and additional training on observation.

While the early childhood apprenticeship program has yet to be established, in the future you can find information using Minnesota State’s Education search tool. This tool gives you the optino to find registered apprenticeships based on campus, program, or course.

For current apprenticeship opportunities through T.E.A.C.H. check out Child Care Aware of Minnesota’s T.E.A.C.H. apprenticeship program page.

7. Child Care Wayfinder received ongoing funds to help child care providers to start and sustain programs 

$2.92 million per year 

If you want to start your own child care program or currently operate one, we have good news to share about Child Care Wayfinder. Wayfinder was launched in 2022 as a “one-stop navigation network” helping providers to start and sustain their programs. The program just received funding from state legislators in spring 2023 to continue.

According to Child Care Aware of Minnesota, Wayfinder prioritizes communities facing the greatest disparities in access. The program reduces disparities by addressing some of the greatest barriers to outreach, recruitment, and navigation services including how to: 

Through Wayfinder, you can reach out to a local navigator for “encouragement, support, and connection.” To find your local navigator, visit Child Care Wayfinder’s contact us page or call 888-986-8207. 

Investment in early childhood professionals leads to greater equity and prosperity in Minnesota. 

Minnesota’s 2023 spring legislative session has made national headlines for its investment in early childhood education. By investing in the early childhood workforce, our state is becoming one of the best places for early childhood professionals to work and live. 

ECE professionals do some of the most important work in our communities. They provide enriching environments for our state’s youngest learners and prepare them to be successful in school, work, and life. The U.S. Department of Education reports that “a robust body of research shows that children who participate in high-quality preschool programs have better health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes than those who do not participate.” The influence of early childhood educators and caregivers is lifelong!

Qualified early childhood professionals also play an important role in racial and economic justice across Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Health reports disparities in access to early childhood education—and its benefits—for Black, Indigenous, and children of color as well as children from low-income households.

By expanding access to education, training, salaries and other resources for early childhood professionals, Minnesota is on track to support an experienced and diverse workforce that can offer quality and culturally responsive early childhood programs in Minnesota.

“The return on investment from early childhood development is extraordinary, resulting in better working public schools, more educated workers and less crime.”

Arthur J. Rolnick

Even more, early childhood workers support a prosperous economy in Minnesota. The Family Partnership’s new board member, Arthur J. Rolnick, senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, explains the financial benefit of a more stable early childhood workforce. Rolnick says, “The return on investment from early childhood development is extraordinary, resulting in better working public schools, more educated workers and less crime.” By supporting the important work of ECE professionals, children, families, and communities in Minnesota will thrive. 

The Family Partnership is currently hiring Lead Teachers and Teacher’s Aides at our North Minneapolis Preschool and South Minneapolis preschool, Four Directions. For more information on career opportunities in early childhood with us, visit our careers page.