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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

HF 1058

1st Engrossment - 88th Legislature (2013 - 2014) Posted on 03/21/2013 03:25pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
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A bill for an act
relating to education finance; establishing an early learning scholarship program;
expanding access to quality early learning and care; appropriating money;
proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 124D.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

new text begin [124D.143] EARLY LEARNING SCHOLARSHIPS.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Early learning scholarships established. new text end

new text begin The Office of Early
Learning must oversee the early learning scholarship program in consultation with the
Minnesota Departments of Education, Human Services, and Health.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Duties. new text end

new text begin The Office of Early Learning shall administer the early learning
scholarship program, establish participation standards for children and their families,
develop criteria for qualifying providers based on section 124D.142, and contract for
administrative services as necessary with a resource and referral organization under
section 119B.19, or other nonprofit or public entity.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Definitions. new text end

new text begin (a) The terms defined in the subdivision apply to this section.
new text end

new text begin (b) "Director" means the director of the Office of Early Learning.
new text end

new text begin (c) "Eligible program" means a Head Start program under section 119A.50, school
readiness program under section 124D.15, or other school district child-based program
designed to provide early education services to children not yet in kindergarten, licensed
center-based child care program under chapter 245A, or licensed family child care
program under chapter 245A or other program providing early learning opportunities.
new text end

new text begin (d) "Income" has the meaning given in section 119B.011, subdivision 15.
new text end

new text begin (e) "Parent" means the parent or legal guardian of a child.
new text end

new text begin (f) "Prospective program" means an eligible program that makes a commitment to
enhance its quality of education and care and demonstrates to the director's satisfaction that
the program is pursuing a program rating. For fiscal years 2016 and later, a prospective
program must cite a hardship or demonstrate a special circumstance as to why the program
is not yet ready to enter the rating process, before the director may grant it eligibility.
new text end

new text begin (g) "Rated program" means an eligible program that receives one, two, three, or four
stars under the quality rating and improvement system established in section 124D.142.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Participant eligibility. new text end

new text begin The parent of a child who will be at least three
years of age as of September 1 of the year of application, is eligible to apply for an early
learning scholarship if the family's income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty
level. The director of the Office of Early Learning may specify the form and manner of
the application for a scholarship. The director may establish a method to determine family
income but a parent meets this requirement by documenting their child's identification
through another public funding eligibility process, including the free and reduced-price
lunch program, National School Lunch Act, United States Code, title 42, section 1751, part
210; Head Start under federal Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007;
Minnesota Family Investment Program under chapter 256J; the Federal Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program; and child care assistance programs under chapter 119B and
no further information to verify income is required. Notwithstanding the other provisions
of this section, a parent under age 21 who is pursuing a high school or general education
equivalency diploma is eligible for an early learning scholarship, if the parent has a child
age zero to five years old and meets the income eligibility guidelines in this subdivision.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Scholarship amount. new text end

new text begin The director annually shall determine the maximum
scholarship amounts based on the annual early care and education provider market survey
results adjusted for inflation as determined by the director, and may establish a range
of scholarship amounts taking into account the child's level of need and geographic
location. The director shall establish a scholarship amount schedule according to the
eligible program's rating and prospective programs under subdivision 3, paragraph
(g). The scholarship amounts may be designed to be layered around other assistance
programs available to that child. The director shall not consider local funds allocated to
support an early learning program when layering scholarships around other assistance
programs. Eligible providers must be notified of the scholarship allocations available in
their geographic location.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Award of scholarships. new text end

new text begin (a) The director shall establish application
timelines and determine the schedule for awarding scholarships that meets operational
needs of eligible programs. The director may prioritize applications on factors including
family income, geographic location, and needs of the child. By March 15, eligible
programs may notify the director of the number of scholarship-eligible children who are
eligible under subdivision 4, and who have applied for enrollment in that program. To
facilitate enrollment planning, by April 15, the director shall notify eligible programs that
have provided enrollment information under this paragraph of the scholarship status of
each applicant. To the extent practicable and taking into account family mobility, the
scholarships must be awarded to eligible recipients beginning April 15 of each year for
a child's participation in a program starting in August or September of that year. Any
siblings of a child who has been awarded a scholarship under this section must be awarded
a scholarship upon request provided the sibling attends the same program. A child who
has received a scholarship under this section must continue to receive a scholarship until
that child enrolls in kindergarten or turns six years of age.
new text end

new text begin (b) A three- or four-star rated program that has a waiting list of children eligible for
scholarships may notify the director of the program's desire to serve additional children in
order to accommodate scholarship recipients. The director may designate a predetermined
number of scholarship slots for that program and notify the program of that number.
new text end

new text begin (c) A scholarship recipient may choose any available program and is not required to
enroll in a program with a predetermined number of slots.
new text end

new text begin (d) A child who receives a scholarship who has not completed development
screening under sections 121A.16 to 121A.19 must complete that screening within 45
days of first attending an eligible program.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Scholarship recipient choice of programs. new text end

new text begin A scholarship recipient may
choose to apply to any rated program or prospective program for acceptance. If the
scholarship recipient has not been accepted and subsequently enrolled in a rated program
within ten months of receipt of the scholarship, the scholarship cancels and the recipient
must reapply in order to be eligible for another scholarship.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 8. new text end

new text begin Building quality. new text end

new text begin For fiscal years 2014 and 2015 only, the director must
develop a streamlined process to encourage eligible programs to enter the rating program.
As a part of building quality in the system of providers, the director may grant a parent
authority to use a scholarship at a prospective program.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 9. new text end

new text begin Provider reimbursement. new text end

new text begin The director may determine the form and
method of payment to the fiscal agent for each program serving a scholarship recipient.
The director may make quarterly payments on behalf of the scholarship recipient in
advance of the services provided to the child, or arrange other payment methods for
providers. The director may request information as necessary from providers to verify
scholarship payments.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 10. new text end

new text begin Earned income calculation. new text end

new text begin Scholarships paid to providers on behalf
of eligible parents must not be counted as earned income for the purposes of medical
assistance, MinnesotaCare, Minnesota Family Investment Program, diversionary work
program, child care assistance, or Head Start programs. Scholarships paid to providers on
behalf of eligible parents must not be considered child care funds for the purposes of the
child care assistance program under chapter 119B.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 11. new text end

new text begin Student identification number. new text end

new text begin The director may collect from
participating programs data including, but not limited to, demographic, socioeconomic,
participation, and assessment information related to scholarship program participants.
Data collected under this subdivision are private, as defined by section 13.02, subdivision
12. Participating program providers must treat the student identification numbers in a
confidential manner and must not disclose those numbers except as authorized under this
subdivision. A participating provider is liable for damages resulting from an improper
release of a student identification number under this subdivision.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 12. new text end

new text begin Report required. new text end

new text begin The director, in consultation with the children's
cabinet, shall develop and implement a plan to publicize and increase parent awareness of
early learning scholarships. The director must report the results of the outreach efforts to
the legislature by January 15 of each year.
new text end

Sec. 2. new text beginFISCAL YEAR 2014 ONLY.
new text end

new text begin Notwithstanding the timelines in section 1, for fiscal year 2014 only, the director
shall establish an expedited process to award scholarships to eligible recipients attending
three- or four-star rated programs to accommodate those eligible programs with fall
enrollment deadlines.
new text end

Sec. 3. new text beginEARLY CHILDHOOD SCHOLARSHIPS.
new text end

new text begin $78,000,000 in fiscal year 2014 and $105,000,000 in fiscal year 2015 are
appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of education for transfer to the
Office of Early Learning for early education scholarship awards under section 1. The base
appropriation for this program for fiscal year 2016 is $150,000,000.
new text end