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Congratulations to Our 2017 Annual State Conference
Award Winners

This year at the MnAEYC-MnSACA Annual State Conference, we were proud to recognize important contributions to the fields of early childhood and afterschool through the following MnAEYC and MnSACA awards. Thank you to each of our award winners for your dedication to Minnesota children, families, communities, and the fields of early care and education and afterschool! Click the name of each award to learn more, and to see a list of past recipients.



2017 MnAEYC
Distinguished Service Award

Greater Twin Cities United Way






2017 MnAEYC
Evelyn House Award

Beth Menninga







2017 MnSACA
Award of Excellence

Ignite Afterschool







2017 MnSACA
Distinguished Member Award

Delroy Tuorila





Announcing Our New Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC), and the Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MnSACA) are excited to announce the selection of Kathleen O'Donnell as the new Executive Director for our organizations.

Ms. O'Donnell has over 25 years of experience in early childhood, school age-care and non-profit management. Most recently, she served as the Director of Family and Educational Services for Twin Cities Public Television. Prior to TPT, she worked at the Minneapolis Foundation as Program Director for Destination 2010. She also worked for both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Public School districts and taught at Anoka-Hennepin Technical College.

Ms. O'Donnell brings experience and passion to our organizations in many areas, including public speaking, budget and fund development, staff management, professional development, community collaborations, and communications. She has her Master’s Degree from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ms. O'Donnell will start in her new role as Executive Director on August 18th. The Board of Directors is looking forward to her leadership and vision as we continue to serve and meet the needs of our members and the early childhood and school-age care fields in the State of Minnesota and nationwide.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please feel free to contact Co-Presidents Dean Wright at or Delroy Tuorila at


Co-Presidents Dean Wright and Delroy Tuorila
Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC)
Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MnSACA)

2014 Legislative Agenda Now Available

Our public policy agenda supports policies that strive to improve the quality of early childhood and school-age care in Minnesota and support the professionals who educate and care for children and youth. We collaborate with our legislative allies to promote these policies and we support our members to be effective advocates for their programs. We can’t do it alone.

MnAEYC-MnSACA’s 2014 public policy agenda is now available. You, as early childhood and school-age professionals, have a great deal to contribute as participants in our democracy, by providing your experience and your knowledge. We believe that your voice is critical to the success of these policies. We encourage you to contact us if you would like to be more involved in advocating for these policies.

Because this is a non-budget year, our agenda is focused on only a few items.

  • We will continue to play a key role in the MinneMinds campaign that seeks additional funding and more flexibility for parents using early learning scholarships.
  • After many years of talking about improving continuity of care in the child care assistance program, we are excited to be supporting legislation that will extend the authorization to 12 months for eligible families.
  • We know from research and best practice that the director of a child care center is the one setting the tone for quality care and education, therefore we support requiring directors to be teacher qualified.
  • Lastly, we will continue to support the implementation of Parent Aware and ensure that quality standards are well-defined and fairly applied and that accreditation is recognized as a high level of quality.
  • The session begins on February 25. Be sure to look out for our policy updates where we will you keep you informed about what’s happening at the legislature and how you can take action. You can always find us on Facebook and Twitter too @MnAEYCMnSACA.

We appreciate your input and feedback. Please contact Sara Benzkofer, Director of Policy and Communications, with your questions, thoughts, concerns, etc. Email

Thanks for being a part of the work and voice of MnAEYC-MnSACA.

Early Learning Scholarships (Pathway I)
Available October 1, 2013.

Starting October 1, low income families will be able to apply for early learning scholarships. The funds are available for children, aged three to five, with the highest needs in order to improve school readiness for all young children.

Up to $5,000 per scholarship will be awarded. Scholarships may be used at any early childhood program participating in the Parent Aware Quality Rating System. The Parent Aware programs a family may choose include Head Start, school-based prekindergarten and preschool programs, and child care programs.

To ensure balanced distribution of the scholarships, the Minnesota Department of Education distributed the funding based on need to the state’s 13 economic development regions.

Click on each region below for a localized press release containing area specific investment information and contact information for the administrator families should contact to see if they are eligible.

To see if a child is eligible for an early learning scholarship, families should contact their regional scholarship administrator. See the list below. To locate a Parent Aware rated program in your area visit the Parent Aware website. For more information on MDE’s early learning scholarship program, visit and select Early Learning under the Just for Parents section.

FY 2014 Scholarship Administrators

Region 1- Norman, Polk and Red Lake – Tri Valley Opportunity Council
Region 2 - Beltrami, Clearwater and Mahnomen – Mahube Community Action Partnership
Region 3 - Carlton, Itasca and Saint Louis – Think Small
Region 4 - Becker, Douglas and Ottertail – Lakes and Prairies Community Action Council
Region 5 - Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison and Wadena – Mahube Community Action Partnership
Region 6E - Kandiyohi and Meeker – Prairie Five Community Action Council
Region 6W - Chippewa, Swift and Yellow Medicine – Prairie Five Community Action Council
Region 7E - Isanti, Mille Lacs and Pine – Pine Technical College
Region 7W - Benton, Stearns and Wright – Child Care Choices
Region 8 - Lincoln, Lyon and Nobles – Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council
Region 9 - Blue Earth, Brown, Nicollet and Watonwan – Child Care Resource and Referral
Region 10 - Mower, Olmstead, Rice and Winona – Child Care Resource and Referral
Region 11 - Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Scott, Ramsey and Washington – Think Small

Helping Parents Navigate Minnesota’s Child Care Options

How do families find quality child care? Every year, hundreds of parents struggle with this question. The Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children and the Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance have tools that can help families in this decision.

Choosing where to leave a child everyday while parents work is an incredibly important decision and all the choices can be overwhelming. Parents need – and want – help identifying what quality looks like and how to find it.

Check out Sharon Bergen, our Executive Director, on Fox 9 News sharing 5 tips parents can use to help them find quality child care, for both young and school-age children.

1) Start early. Finding just the right 'match' between a child care program and your needs can take some time, so it is wise to start as early as possible. Also, your preferred program may not have an opening immediately. So, starting early gives you a better chance of getting a place in your 'top choice'. Be sure to interview the provider, visit the home and/or program, check references and licensing records.

2) Make a list of your 'must have' attributes. Consider the times of day and days of the week you will need child care. Be careful to allow for travel time! Also, consider what locations will work best for your family. And, list some of the attributes you are looking for, rank them if possible. For example, is safety the most important factor for you? An educational program" Location? Access to outdoor play such as parks or nature?

3) Use resources to identify potential programs. Every region of the state has a child care resource and referral agency that can help identify child care programs that fit your location requirements. These agencies will not find care for you but can provide a 'shopping list' of sorts to get your search started. Other helpful resources include quality ratings, such as accreditation or MN's Parent Aware ratings. These ratings help parents to identify programs that have met specific requirements above and beyond licensing.

4) Ask your employer about any supports that may be available. Some employers have on-site care. Others have negotiated discounts with child care providers. And, some have pre-tax flexible spending accounts that can help with child care costs. Understanding these options will make your search easier.

5) Ask like-minded friends and co-workers for referrals. Referrals are extremely helpful and referrals from other parents who have similar interests and priorities to your own are invaluable!

Here are a list of resources to assist you in finding quality child care.

Search for a Quality Child Care Program

Search for a NAEYC Accredited Program (infant-school-age)

NAEYC is a national accrediting body that ensures the quality of children's daily experiences in early childhood programs and promotes positive child outcomes.

Search for a MAAP Accredited Program (school-age)

MAAP is a Minnesota based accreditation ensuring quality programming for school-aged children and youth.

Search for a Parent Aware rated program

Minnesota’s quality rating and improvement system helps parents find early childhood programs that go above and beyond to prepare children for school and life. The one- to four-star ratings system – a free service – measures best practices identified by research that help children succeed.

Additional resources and checklists

Child Care Aware of Minnesota (Including checklists)

Every region of the state has a child care resource and referral agency that can help identify child care programs that fit your location requirements. These agencies will not find care for you but can provide a 'shopping list' of sorts to get your search started.

A Caring Place for Your Infant (Including a checklist)

A Caring Place for Your Toddler (including a checklist)

A Good Preschool for Your Child

Department of Human Services Licensing Information Lookup

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