Minnesota Parent Aware: Rigging the Early Learning Market – Redesign or Shut it Down!
May 1, 2019
It’s now apparent that Minnesota’s Parent Aware system is not the true measure of quality ratings that our Legislature and Agencies have purported it to be. In fact, government records show that the Parent Aware System was utilized for the purpose of setting up a monopoly for public schools, head starts and corporate chain centers.
Several years ago, Minnesota “won” the federal lottery grant for babies and toddlers. Parent Aware is part of a federal idea gone wrong. According to the Early Learning Council, a governor-appointed group:
“In 2011, Minnesota was one of nine states awarded a federal Race to the Top -Early Learning Challenge Grant (RTT-ELC). This $45 million award for 2012-2016 is designed to improve early learning and development opportunities for Minnesota’s children.”
You might remember that the Common Core was specifically tied to the Race to the Top grant, and thus, Minnesota has been busy building the Baby Common Core!
Three main projects were covered in the grant.
—–Align and Set up a systematic program state-wide
—–Parent Aware and
—–Early Learning Scholarships
Both are foundational to House File 1.
Prior to the Race to the Top grant, a Metro group of businessmen, Minnesota Early Learning Foundation, gathered $20M dollars to start a pilot program, Parent Aware for School Readiness. This was the beginning of a business plan for the Parent Aware experiment. This was not “for the children”, it was a business plan. By 2012, this pilot, Parent Aware, was utilized as the quality measurement for federal accountability for the Early Learning Challenge.
What’s been going on since 2012? The Agencies and Legislature, through the Race to the Top grant, started Accelerated Pathways to Ratings. It was decided that public schools, Title 1 schools, Head Starts and the corporate chain centers would have the fast-track on 3 or 4-star ratings statewide in 2012. Just like that! Boom! This grouping would receive 3 to 4 stars right away, which are the highest ratings.
(B)(2) Goal 1: Expand availability of accelerated ratings for accredited, Title 1 Head Start and school-based programs statewide in 2012.
1.1: recruit targeted programs to participate in Accelerated Pathways to Rating.
1.2: provide supports as incentives for these programs to participate in Accelerated Pathways to Ratings.
(Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge, pg. 602)
Meanwhile, it was written into the grant that licensed home-based and small center providers would enter the slow-track of ratings starting in 2012 and the accelerated track would not fully be available statewide to these providers until 2015. The government purposely pushed off this group from competing fully in the workplace through a slower path to ratings.
(B)(2) Goal 2: Expand the availability of the full rating for licensed center-based and licensed family child care programs incrementally starting in 2012, with statewide availability in 2015.
1.1: recruit targeted programs to participate in the full rating option
1.2: provide supports as incentives for programs Children with High Need to participate in the full rating option
MACC has published testimony and personal stories of providers and how DHS purposely targeted those in home-based and small centers. Between the rigged Parent Aware system and DHS targeting, home-based and small center provider numbers have been decimated.
To this day, public schools, head starts and corporate chain centers receive automatic and continuous 4 star Parent Aware ratings even when there is reported maltreatment. Maltreatment records may be viewed at the Dept. of Human Services website.
Statistics regarding childcare in Minnesota in 2012* and 2017**.
Type of Provider 2012* 2017**
Home-based providers 11,000 7,800
Chain centers 1,600 1,779
Public schools 334 TBA
Head Starts 34 134
*Data from Early Learning Council, 2013 report.
**Data from MDE. Not all data available on public schools.
Now what about the Parent Aware ratings?
Both the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation’s and national evaluators admit that there is no way to know if quality rating systems improve child outcomes or program quality. (See Evidence on Effectiveness of Quality Rating Systems)
“The design does not permit us to determine if Parent Aware causes outcomes for programs, parents, or children. We can look at patterns of associations, but causation cannot be determined.” (Parent Aware Third Year Review, MELF, November 2010, PowerPoint, p. 9)
Regarding implementation, according to the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation Review,
“Two-thirds of programs received automatic 4-star ratings.” (MELF, Year 3 Evaluation, p. 130, [2/3 of the programs are getting a free pass].
According to a Legislative Audit in April 2018, the Office of Legislative Auditor office stated “You cannot prove the 4 star rated programs are any better than others. They do not prove quality.” And additionally, “There are no checks and balances for any of the child care funding streams in Minnesota.”
The Parent Aware Star rating system was apparently contrived for some other reason than determining a quality program and so “misses the mark” for assisting families in what is good or not good daycare.
MACC further questions this system:
- For what reason was Parent Aware truly put into place if the program is not measured with any specificity and ratings are automatic 4 stars if you’re a public school, head start or big chain center? Are the scholarships related to our state Human Capital Bonds or HuCAPs?
- Parent Aware was evidently set up to remove competition in the early care and education market to specifically increase baby and toddler programs in schools and chain centers and, thus, push out small business providers. This sounds an awful like an Anti-Trust Violation case! How long did our Legislators think this monopoly would go unnoticed?
- How do these higher ratings benefit the schools, head starts and big chain centers? Recall that Early Learning Challenge was for 2 primary reasons: Parent Aware accountability system and Early Learning Scholarships. Based on the higher rating, this group receives the extra benefit of applying for Early Learning Scholarships in addition to CCAP money. (Please see the video posted on the MACC page if you haven’t!)
Note exactly how many millions of dollars are going into the schools, head starts and chain centers annually with absolutely no accountability as to how those funds must be spent. DHS has a guideline that these “maximized funds” must be spent on staff and curriculum, but there is no accountability, checking on receipts, nada! This is a huge amount of wasted taxpayer dollars and we have no way of knowing if the kids and families are receiving all of the monies intended. How many millions in unused Early Learning Scholarship monies are being sent back to the providers without any accountability?
One of the foundational lynch pins of House File 1 is Parent Aware, the “federal” accountability system that has rigged the early learning market. MACC’s hope is that House File 1 does not pass by any measure. But we have to understand the faulty foundation. It is time to scrap the Parent Aware system for a redesign or shut it down altogether. It’s time to unleash competition back into the early learning markets once again! Parents will quickly figure out which childcare providers are the best fit for them without government holding their hands.
Minnesota House Votes to Keep HF 1 Intact within the Education and Jobs Omnibus Bills
by: Linda Bell
April 24, 2019
Yesterday, the Minnesota House voted to keep alive the portions of the Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act, HF 1 that are educational or job related in the Education and Jobs Omnibus bills. As you know, Articles 1 and 2 are Health and Human Services related and that Omnibus has yet to be heard. In years to come, House File 1 may very well be named the takeover of prenatal and early childhood.
What is HF 1?
As we’ve written all legislative session, HF 1 books prenatal care with —>home visits for health equity, along with a —> Great Start Fund for Early Learning Scholarships for —>Birth to 3 year olds for —>schools, head starts with —>additional preschool funding expansion. Much of this funding is purported by the House’s original HF 1 to send funding into the upper-middle class thereby making childcare FREE for the very large majority of this sector.
Early in the session, the 2019 House Early Education Committee invited guest speakers to present their ideologies and rationale for early childhood. Organizations such as the First Thousand Days, Zero to 3, Think Small, Think Babies!, Close Gaps by 5 and other similar organizations want babies and toddlers in schools and head starts by birth. As to mothers? All mothers must join the workforce. Essentially, these groups believe that all babies and toddlers must be raised by the State, as do many in the Early Education Committee and authors of House File 1.
Communicate with Senators now!
Call/email your senators! This time, please first call/email your constituent senator. Next, Call/Email the Senate leadership. THE SENATE MUST STAND STRONG! We’ve got to have a large, strong group calling and emailing right away. This is our right and privilege of citizenship and that is, communicating what we wish our Senators to do. The Senate Ed, House & Human Services and Jobs Omnibus bills will up be shortly for a vote. (Find Senate leadership and a link to all senators below and email example.)
We are privileged to have a voice in America. Please use your voice and take the 5 minutes to call and/or email your senator. We do this as citizens because we still have a voice! We are so far down this road. If you haven’t read all of the articles or watched our videos, take that time… quickly! Especially if you are new to MACC. And yes, MACC’s 5,000 are standing up for the rest of the state who may not even know these issues are coming for their familes.
Procedurally, the Senate will be voting on their Omnibus bills shortly. Then the House and Senate will conference the two bills together. Lastly, the Chambers will vote on the conferenced Omnibus bills.
A short email example is found below senate contact information.
What was passed yesterday?
House Education Omnibus:
*Home visiting embedded in several sections including full-service community schools as well as funding
*Birth to 3 initiative remains via expansion of Early Learning Scholarships
*Parents may not opt out of school developmental screening at age 3 when on early learning scholarships. (Remember, doctors screen at regular childhood visits. School screening sets up a SSID # on your child and sends all information into the State Longitudinal Database.)
*Early Learning Scholarship Fund is established in special revenue fund (aka: Great Start Fund)
*Pre-K funding and policy expansion.
*Establishment of “Legislative Report on Early Care & Education Coordination.” [This language comes directly from the Preschool Development Block grant which requires states to: “Enhance coordination of scholarships, assistance, home visiting along with working with non-profits and Children’s Cabinet (a rather secret governor appointed group) for the purpose of a CHILDHOOD SYSTEMS REFORM EFFORT. “ The report is tasked with recommendations for a CONSOLIDATED UNIVERSAL PROCESS.] Universal means ALL.
*Funding for Greater Minnesota Facilities grant program. This program grants monies for land acquisition, purchase of building, pre-design and design of new or existing buildings, etc. Additionally, this program will set up childcare programs which are Parent Aware programs only. (Not all providers have to join Parent Aware yet.) If you saw my video, Parent Aware is not a measure of quality and has rigged the early learning market to set up a government-imposed monopoly.
*Funding for the Initiative Foundations. The is a regional organization that will implement the Greater Minnesota Facilities grant program.
*Funding for First Children’s Finance.
Paul Gazelka 651-296-4875 *Use email form
Karin Housley 651-296-4351 email@example.com
Warren Limmer 651-296-2159 firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary H. Dahms 651-296-8138 email@example.com
Mary Kiffmeyer 651-296-5655 *Use email form
John R. Jasinski 651-296-0284 *Use email form
Michelle Benson 651-296-3219 *Use email form
Jeremy Miller 651-296-5649 firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Pratt 651-296-4153 email@example.com
*Check this link for those senators with email form. https://www.senate.mn/members/index.php?tab=leader
Find your constituent senator at this link.
Not sure WHO is your senator?
MACC Email Example: Please feel free to edit or you may use as is.
I was very disappointed that the House Education Omnibus passed last night with few changes. Our family is most concerned about changes encompassing the early childhood landscape.
I am aware of the ideologies behind the bill via First Thousand Days, Zero to 3, Think Small, Think Babies!, Close Gaps by 5 and other similar organizations. These groups believe that all babies and toddlers must be raised by the State and some were even invited presenters to the House Early Education Committee on behalf of HF 1. These strong beliefs are held undeterred. Yet, this is not the will of the People.
I ask for your support to vote no to any similar measures in the Senate.
We are counting on you! Please stand strong!!!
Vote No to the following policies or funding.
*No further expansion of policy or funding for Home Visits.
*No expansion of policy (Birth to 3 initiative) with the expansion of funding for Early Learning Scholarships. The Early Learning Scholarships are a DHS slush fund and financially corrupt. The billing of scholarships has already been exposed and should be cut in half not expanded.
*Retain freedom of parents to choose either a school’s developmental screening test or their own doctor’s screening when on Early Learning Scholarships. No mandates against parental rights, please.
*No funding for the Greater Minnesota Facilities Grant program and Initiative Foundations which continue to perpetuate a government monopoly over childcare providers.
Home Visits: Minnesota’s Help Me Grow Program Might Just Refer You and Your Child Without Your Consent
With all the discussion of expanded home visits in Minnesota, an existing program, Help Me Grow (HMG), is already referring parents and children for the purpose of home visiting services. Help Me Grow is an interagency organization, working with and on behalf of the Department of Education and Department of Health and partnering with all local service agencies.
The HMG website is bright and cheerful and demonstrates the importance of helping children develop to their furthest potential. We are sure that there are many devoted individuals who will deliver these home visit services. In some cases, services may be needed. However, with any government program there will be monetary assistance followed by regulations. Always beware the “free” program!
HOME VISIT REFERRALS
If you as a parent, or someone else such as a professional, friend, family member (or basically anyone) has concerns about your child’s development, you and your child can be referred to the Minnesota Help Me Grow program without your knowledge. Currently, professionals (health care providers or teachers) are required to refer your child if they are concerned about any aspect of your child’s development. This is quite an overreach!!!
A Minnesota Department of Education’s “Help Me Grow” spokesperson stated that in 2018, just under 22,000 children, birth through kindergarten, were referred to the program “because a caring adult in their lives identified a concern”. That number has skyrocketed from just 533 referrals in 2010 when the program was first implemented. This same spokesperson related that the program is expected to rapidly expand very soon.
Although originally begun for ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education Services) purposes, Help Me Grow wishes to expand services to the broader realm of early childhood according to a 2016 article on the Think Small website. According to the Think Small article, “Many families are fearful of connecting with the school districts because they do not want their child to be labeled for years to come. Expanded Help Me Grow hopes to help mitigate this by offering services beyond ECSE and making sure families are informed about the options.” Indeed parents ought to be concerned when agencies and districts are housing this early data on an individual’s life. https://www.thinksmallblog.org/?p=422
Referrals are based upon developmental milestones from the following four categories: motor, communication and language, social and emotional and cognitive. The “when to refer” section offers pointers on when best to refer to your child, birth to 2 years old. Yet, children can be referred up to 5 years old under the 3 to 5 year preschool program.
The only issue we see here is that each child develops a little differently, some ahead and some behind, developmentally. Take for instance, my friend’s son who didn’t utter a word until he was 2 years old. His chatty sister spoke for him most of that time. When he reached two, he spoke in paragraphs and they’ve not been able to quiet him since. According to this chart, that infant’s non-speaking behavior (babbling) would have kicked off a couple of years of home visits. That young man today is not only a very intelligent young man but also a fine public speaker.
According to the standard visiting length set by the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association, they prefer to see families for 3 or 4 years according to testimony provided before the House Early Childhood Committee. http://ww2.house.leg.state.mn.us/audio/mp3ls91/child022119.mp3
The referral page gives the disclaimer that a referral may be done without your knowledge or consent. Of course, they “encourage” the person making the referral “to speak with the family about the referral”. Not necessary, however. “As a professional, you MUST refer…
According to the program website, “The family will be contacted by the local school district to arrange for a screening or evaluation to determine if a child is eligible for Infant and Toddler Intervention or Preschool Special Education services.”
Besides the referral component, the data being collected on your child is concerning. Some families may never know that their family data was entered into the MDE website. The Minnesota Dept of Education will have information stating your child needs home visits as well as the local school district. What if you decline?
When a doctor or teacher refers your child to Help Me Grow, they will enter your child’s first, last and name (if they have it), their date of birth, their age, who they live with, your name, address, and phone number (if you are the person the child lives with). If they can’t find your phone number, another contact of someone close to you will be given to Help Me Grow authorities.
Once in the Help Me Grow portal, information is entered to refer to the proper school district.
This information goes to the school district where the parent and child resides. You will be contacted within seven to ten days to discuss the referral.
After contact from the school district, early intervention professionals may choose to conduct a screening using simple questionnaires or by talking with you about your child’s development.
“Help Me Grow” online information states that the data collection under the national model is to “understand all aspects of the Help Me Grow system, including the identification of gaps and barriers”.
There is also an ongoing effort to expand Help Me Grow to be able to connect with a wider group of families to a broad array of supports and services—following the “national” Help Me Grow model developed by the CT Children’s Medical Center. The goal is to move toward this national model while offering the child and parent more services with the obligatory required data collection.
In 2016, a number of recommendations were made to expand the Help Me Grow system in Minnesota including state funding. During a May 2016 Help Me Grow tour of the state, Kelly Monson, director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet stated, “This is the second year that Help Me Grow was included in the Governor’s budget. Currently, the Senate is allocating the requested $1 million in state funding for the program. While Help Me Grow presently receives funding through a few different sources, they are somewhat restrictive, and extra dollars are needed to expand. Monson hopes to continue to use multiple, sustainable funding sources for the program in the future, including public-private partnerships.”
While a parent may decline home visit services their information has already been uploaded to the Minnesota Department of Education and local school district. Is this correct information? Who else is receives this information? Are the services truly necessary? Will the current developmental milestones become more rigid? What philosophical ideas does your pediatrician hold concerning good health as well as your child care provider in good education?
Parents must be aware of their pediatrician’s ideas about what constitutes good health and whether they would have consentual conversations about home visits. Additionally, parents must be aware of their child care provider’s ideas about what constitutes good development at these young ages. The responsible parent will do everything in their power to ensure their children’s success which may or may not include government intervention. There are other options.
In the end, and in the case of Help Me Grow, parents do need to be aware of possible referrals when your local school district calls for home visits. MACC would advise all parents to request having their data removed from both the MDE and local district, regardless of whether you decide or not that home visits are in the best interests of your family. This program is only going to expand and expand in funding, policy and cradle to grave data collection!