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Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota (CDF-MN) works to ensure every child has a healthy, fair, safe, moral, and head start in life and a successful passage to adulthood. Their programs are based in advocacy, research, outreach, and youth development to make a positive difference in the lives of Minnesota’s children and families. CDF-MN and the West Central Initiative together chair the Minnesota Prenatal to Three Coalition, which represents a broad array of local, regional and statewide early childhood stakeholders and coalitions.

State Allies:

Children's Defense Fund Minnesota • St. Paul, MN
West Central Initiative • Fergus Falls, MN
Top Priorities for 2021

Increase access to early care and education through the creation of a dedicated revenue source to support expansion of CCAP, ELS, and other resources.

Increase the number of families that access paid leave to care for themselves or family members through a state insurance program and/or other strategies.

Increase access to geographically and culturally responsive, trauma-informed health and mental health care prenatally through early childhood to improve health and early learning outcomes.

Minnesota’s 2020 Early Childhood Policy Landscape and Progress:

Estimated FY20 State General Fund Expenditures

House (D), Senate (R)
Governor (D)

178,211 Young Children (0-8) are Below 200% FPL

Minnesota’s divided legislature has impeded progress on some key policy priorities that affect inequities for children and families. The year began with a budget surplus of $1.5 billion, which changed to a deficit of $2.4 billion after COVID-19 hit. State leaders are projecting a deficit of $4.7 billion in the next biennial budget. Minnesota allies co-chaired and served as lead policy experts on legislation providing up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave and 12 weeks of paid family leave with robust employment protections and broad definition of family. Unfortunately, this bill passed only the House of Representatives.

The achievements of our Minnesota allies resulted in 90 percent of licensed child care providers remaining open during the public health emergency.

*Early childhood policy progress in a state is the result of numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

More from Minnesota:

Minnesota Early Childhood Policy Advocacy

Minnesota Allies Play Defense in 2018 Legislative Session

The 2018 state legislative session did not yield child-focused investments or policy, but some consequences were avoided. Allies’ child care priorities garnered broad bipartisan support throughout the legislative session and were included in the supplemental budget bill that both the House and Senate passed. The budget bill, however, also included problematic provisions, including one that could have had the unintended consequence of removing eligible individuals from public programs.

Read More »

Download the full 50-State report.

The Alliance for Early Success 2020 50-State Progress Report on Early Childhood Policy expands state data (disaggregating low-income young children by race) and provides high-level state policy trend analysis for the nation as a whole. Click the icon to download the report.

State Budget Data: National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), “Table 4: Fiscal 2020 State General Fund, Estimated (Millions); The Fiscal Survey of the States.” Spring, 2020

Low-Income Data (including disaggregation by race): National Center for Children in Poverty, “NCCP Analysis of ACS 1-year Estimates—Public Use Microdata Sample, 2019.”

State Action Data: Provided by state advocates, October-November 2020, with analysis and synthesis by Frontera Strategy for Alliance for Early Success, “Protecting Progress and Investing in Scale: The 2020 50-State Progress Report on Early Childhood Education Policy.”

Additional State Actions: Mincic, Melissa,  Early Care and Education, State Budget Actions, Fiscal Year 2020. National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), October 2020. 


The Alliance for Early Success is achieving large-scale, long-lasting change for the state’s young children by providing our allies with powerful advantages that help them shape Minnesota early childhood state policy.

Strategic, Outcomes-Focused Investments

Consulting and Strategy

Technical Support from National Expertise

Rapid Response Support

Connections/Access to Allies in Similar States

Roles in National Communities of Practice