124D.15 School readiness programs.
Subdivision 1. Establishment; purpose. A district or a group of districts may establish a school readiness program for eligible children. The purpose of a school readiness program is to provide all eligible children adequate opportunities to participate in child development programs that enable the children to enter school with the necessary skills and behavior and family stability and support to progress and flourish.
Subd. 2. Child eligibility. (a) A child is eligible to participate in a school readiness program offered by the resident district or another district if the child is:
(1) at least 3-1/2 years old but has not entered kindergarten; and
(2) receives developmental screening under section 121A.17 within 90 days of enrolling in the program or the child's fourth birthday.
(b) A child younger than 3-1/2 years old may participate in a school readiness program if the district or group of districts that establishes the program determines that the program can more effectively accomplish its purpose by including children younger than 3-1/2 years old.
Subd. 3. Program eligibility. A school readiness program must include the following:
(1) a comprehensive plan to anticipate and meet the needs of participating families by coordinating existing social services programs and by fostering collaboration among agencies or other community-based organizations and programs that provide a full range of flexible, family-focused services to families with young children;
(2) a development and learning component to help children develop appropriate social, cognitive, and physical skills, and emotional well-being;
(3) health referral services to address children's medical, dental, mental health, and nutritional needs;
(4) a nutrition component to meet children's daily nutritional needs;
(5) parents' involvement in meeting children's educational, health, social service, and other needs;
(6) community outreach to ensure participation by families who represent the racial, cultural, and economic diversity of the community;
(7) community-based staff and program resources, including interpreters, that reflect the racial and ethnic characteristics of the children participating in the program; and
(8) a literacy component to ensure that the literacy needs of parents are addressed through referral to and cooperation with adult basic education programs and other adult literacy programs.
Subd. 4. Program goals. School readiness programs are encouraged to:
(1) prepare an individualized service plan to meet each child's developmental and learning needs;
(2) provide parent education to increase parents' knowledge, understanding, skills, and experience in child development and learning;
(3) foster substantial parent involvement that may include having parents develop curriculum or serve as a paid or volunteer educator, resource person, or other staff;
(4) identify the needs of families in the content of the child's school readiness and family literacy;
(5) expand collaboration with public organizations, businesses, nonprofit organizations, or other private organizations to develop a coordinated system of flexible, family-focused services available to anticipate and meet the full range of needs of all eligible children and their families;
(6) coordinate treatment and follow-up services for children's identified physical and mental health problems;
(7) offer transportation for eligible children and their families for whom other forms of transportation are unavailable or would constitute an excessive financial burden;
(8) make substantial outreach efforts to assure significant participation by families with the greatest needs, including those families whose income level does not exceed the most recent update of the poverty guidelines required by sections 652 and 673(2) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (Public Law 97-35);
(9) use community-based, trained home visitors serving as paraprofessionals to provide social support, referrals, parent education, and other services;
(10) create community-based family resource centers and interdisciplinary teams; and
(11) enhance the quality of family or center-based child care programs by providing supplementary services and resources, staff training, and assistance with children with special needs.
Subd. 5. Services with new or existing providers. A district is encouraged to contract with a public or nonprofit organization to provide eligible children developmentally appropriate services that meet the program requirements in subdivision 3. In the alternative, a district may pay tuition or fees to place an eligible child in an existing program. A district may establish a new program where no existing, reasonably accessible program meets the program requirements in subdivision 3. Services may be provided in a site-based program or in the home of the child or a combination of both. The district may not restrict participation to district residents.
Subd. 6. Coordination with other providers. (a) The district must coordinate the school readiness program with existing community-based social services providers and foster collaboration among agencies and other community-based organizations and programs that provide flexible, family-focused services to families with children. The district must actively encourage greater sharing of responsibility and accountability among service providers and facilitate children's transition between programs.
(b) To the extent possible, resources must follow the children so that children receive appropriate services in a stable environment and are not moved from one program location to another. Where geographically feasible, the district must actively promote colocating of services for children and their families.
Subd. 7. Advisory council. Each school readiness program must have an advisory council composed of members of existing early education-related boards, parents of participating children, child care providers, culturally specific service organizations, local resource and referral agencies, local early intervention committees, and representatives of early childhood service providers. The council must advise the board in creating and administering the program and must monitor the progress of the program. The council must ensure that children at greatest risk receive appropriate services. If the board is unable to appoint to the advisory council members of existing early education-related boards, it must appoint parents of children enrolled in the program who represent the racial, cultural, and economic diversity of the district and representatives of early childhood service providers as representatives to an existing advisory council.
Subd. 8. Prioritizing services. The district must give greatest priority to providing services to eligible children identified, through a means such as the early childhood screening process, as being developmentally disadvantaged or experiencing risk factors that could impede their school readiness.
Subd. 9. Child records. (a) A record of a child's progress and development must be maintained in the child's cumulative record while enrolled in the school readiness program. The cumulative record must be used for the purpose of planning activities to suit individual needs and shall become part of the child's permanent record. The cumulative record is private data under chapter 13. Information in the record may be disseminated to an educator or service provider only to the extent that that person has a need to know the information.
(b) An educator or service provider may transmit information in the child's cumulative record to an educator or service provider in another program for young children when the child applies to enroll in that other program.
Subd. 10. Supervision. A program provided by a board must be supervised by a licensed early childhood teacher, a certified early childhood educator, or a licensed parent educator. A program provided according to a contract between a district and a nonprofit organization or another private organization must be supervised and staffed according to the terms of the contract.
Subd. 11. District standards. The board of the district must develop standards for the school readiness program that reflect the eligibility criteria in subdivision 3. The board must consider including in the standards the program characteristics in subdivision 4.
Subd. 12. Program fees. A district may adopt a sliding fee schedule based on a family's income but must waive a fee for a participant unable to pay. The fees charged must be designed to enable eligible children of all socioeconomic levels to participate in the program.
Subd. 13. Additional revenue. A district or an organization contracting with a district may receive money or in-kind services from a public or private organization.
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Revisor of Statutes