ALERT! Minnesota Home Visits: An Opportunity to Herd Our Children

home visits infants

ALERT! Minnesota Home Visits: An Opportunity to Herd Our Children
Minnesota HF 1

Hello! We’re from the Government! We’re Here to Help!! Or so the saying goes…

At what point will government understand that we really don’t want them generally poking around, advising us how to parent and herding our kids towards a one-size fits all? If you haven’t read any of the federal education grant bills (or health, for that matter), you may be in for a rude awakening. So… grab a cup of coffee before the snow storm arrives!

The first bill dropped this session and important for that reason alone, HF 1 consists of 5 or 6 existing statutes combined in order to introduce new language and create an act: Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act, seeking to expand, incentivize and implement governmental prenatal care, home visiting, early leaning (Birth to 3) and care and child care availability.

The state of Minnesota (and a host of non-profits, foundations, universities and corporations who help with dissemination or funding) eventually want your children from birth to 3 in some sort of childcare along with home visits prenatally until your child is three years old and then passed to the Pre-K program. This early ed/home visit system has been coming for at least 20 years. All programs in this system will be free. That’s the carrot!

For the sake of this article, we’ll be looking into Article 2 first. Read the whole bill here… https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=house&f=HF0001&ssn=0&y=2019

Article 2: Home Visiting for Pregnant Women and Families with Young Children, is ready to award grants to “community health boards, nonprofit organizations and tribal nations” to either start or expand home visiting programs.

Specifically, the grants must be used “to start up or expand evidenced-based home visiting programs OR programs that are culturally or ethnically targeted to the county, reservation or region of operation.”

HOME VISITS FOR WHOM?
Families with young children or pregnant women who are high risk and have high needs (OR)
Parents who have a history of mental illness, domestic abuse or substance abuse (OR)
First-time mothers, (OR)
Families eligible for medical assistance or federal nutrition program

Essentially, HF 1 would include home visiting for EVERYONE! Will there be marketing? You betcha!

IS IT MANDATORY?
Not yet but it seemingly always ends up that way! There’ll be marketing, that is, “evidenced-based research” to show that infants are better off with home visits (and free, full-day education from 1 to 3) and, of course, it’s FREE! While incentivizing and implementing, nonprofits, corporations, business interests and community groups will HERD parents into putting their children into home visits. Just like Free, Full-Day Kindergarten implementation a few years ago, we could see home visits affecting a large percentage of all early childhood daycare/preschool opportunities. Home visits are to become the norm. (Read about the implementation strategies of free, full-day K below.) But there’s more…

WHAT ELSE?
Additionally, under Article 2, Subdivision 1 (b) if grant monies are used for home visiting, the program MUST provide services prenatally until the child is three years of age.

All in all, the government home visiting program will be 2 years and 9 months!!! What sort of information will be disseminated in the home visits? This will depend on the grant requirements. Remember, federal money always comes with “strings.”

WHAT ARE EVIDENCED-BASED GRANTS?
You may ask, “What is an evidenced-based grant, as described in Subd. 1 (1)?” Well, wait!! We have new proposed legislation on evidence-based education grants, HF 125, just being heard in committee this week. It states, “To the extent practicable, the goals must be aligned to the Minnesota’s World Best Workforce and the federally required Every Student Succeeds Act accountability systems.” Well, that’s a lot of Common Core right there (ESSA) in addition to requiring every school district to match up their budget with the state budget, line item by line item (MWBW.) Additionally, the bill gives grant application requirements, data collection expectations and reporting required by 180 days of the end of the grant period, December 2019. (Evidenced-based grants and home visiting were part of the RttT-ELC and ESSA, that is why ESSA is referenced in the bill.) Evidenced-based means “science-based.” And if it’s science, no matter if the methodology is flawed, it’s “settled.”

Appropriations

Appropriations will double in 2021 and then quadruple in 2022.
Fiscal year 2020 = $23,000,000.
Fiscal year 2021 = $41,600,000.
Fiscal year 2022 and thereafter = $98,000,000.

In addition, we’ll likely have several grant sources like the Evidenced-Grant Education Grant. HF 1, Subdivision 2 (b) “The Commissioner [of Education] shall allocate at least 75% of the grant funds awarded each grant cycle to Evidenced-Based home visiting programs and up to 25% will be allocated to culturally and ethnically-targeted home visiting programs.”

By the way, Minnesotans need to keep an eye on any changes to the lower end of compulsory school legislatively, because HF 1 targets the entire population. I don’t see it this year, but in the near term, yes. I’m sure there are many in Minnesota who would jump to receive “free” child care dressed up as important educational development.

Strategy for the Coming Home Visits/Birth to 3 Early Education: It’s Free!

And for what reason are we backfilling reforms to include kids from birth? When our state pushed for free full-day Kindergarten, do you recall their strategy? The state and their minions proclaimed that kids must be ready for 1st grade. The state said, “It’s free Full-Day-K!” As of the 2nd year of free Full-Day-K, the state declared that 99.7% of all school districts offered full-day.  In all, it took only two years to complete the switch over. By the way, we heard from many parents that did not want full-day K but these families were forced to comply because the school might not have room for the child next year. So the school said… which was not legal.

And now get ready for the marketing as they push Universal Preschool/Preschool for All (related to Article 3 of this bill) AND 2 and 3 year olds early education. Governor Dayton’s 2015 Fact Sheet on Preschool for All stated, “Investing in preschool opportunities for all Minnesota kids will help ENSURE EVERY FOUR-YEAR OLD ARRIVES AT ALL-DAY KINDERGARTEN PREPARED TO LEARN.” The ploy will be that kids have to be ready for Kindergarten. And so the argument will continue as young as the government and helpful foundations can push it.

Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant from 2011, which brought in the Common Core system, set the following priorities.
– Incentivize full-day Kindergarten
– Provide preschool to ALL low and middle income families
– Expand Head Start and other child care opportunities through the
community
– Extend and expand “evidenced-based” home visiting
– Push for more infants and toddlers into Head Start birth to 3
– Implement new standards into early learning (Common Core), birth to 5
– Utilize Child Care & Development Block Grants to start
Additionally, a new database system was created just for infants and toddlers, called ELSA. Data from birth, but now we see likely from conception (prenatal).

Remember, government works through incremental moves. If the move is too sudden or expansive, there is great public backlash. Though deemed an “opportunity,” it is becoming more and more clear that the goal is to institutionalize our kids during these young precious years.

Know your Minnesota legislator? It’s time to get on the phone or send emails and tell them we don’t want Home Visits for Minnesota (or a one-size-fits-all Birth to 3 early education model.)

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