Way 6 – Invest in Early Childhood Education

Way6Gretchen Dullinger is an early childhood education teacher in the Osseo school district. She’s taught in Osseo for 11 years.

“We have programming for children ages birth to five including preschool for three- and four-year olds, Early Childhood Family Education classes, home visits, screening and more,” Gretchen says. “Children in our programs develop social, cognitive and motors skills that prepare them for kindergarten.”

Gretchen adds, “There is a tremendous return on investment in these children as they move on to be successful in our elementary schools.”

Osseo’s program served 3,260 students in 2012. However, there is a waiting list of more than 150 children who are currently unable to attend because of lack of space and resources.

A large number of the students in the program qualify for free and reduced lunch, and are able to attend early childhood programs for a reduced cost or for free.

Gretchen noted that children in the school district, which includes some or all of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Corcoran, Dayton, Maple Grove, Osseo, Plymouth and Rogers, come from a variety of backgrounds and family structures.

“With additional state funding, we would be able to ensure that dozens if not hundreds of children have the skills and knowledge base to succeed in school and life,” she says.

With fair and adequate revenues we can make high-quality early childhood education options accessible for all kids.

Way 5 – Invest in Domestic Violence Advocacy

Way5To the outside world, Beth had a wonderful 15-year marriage. Behind closed doors, life was different. Her husband insulted her, controlled her relationships, constantly emailed/called her at work. Four days after the birth of their child, he beat her and ruptured her spleen. He routinely beat, bruised and raped her.

Marisa was 17 and living in Mexico. She was kidnapped and held captive. She escaped and returned home but her family rejected her. So, she married her kidnapper. He beat and strangled her daily. When they came to the United States she hoped the abuse would stop. It didn’t; the abuse got worse.

Nicki fell in love at the age of 20 but her boyfriend isolated her, told her she was stupid and unwanted. He held Nicki captive by gunpoint for three days, brutally beat, strangled, whipped and raped her. Finally he slept and Nicki escaped, running five blocks to find help.

What happened to Beth, Marisa and Nicki? Thanks to domestic violence advocacy services around Minnesota, they survived and lead stable, happy lives today.

In 2012, Beth, Marisa, Nicki and 63,267 other victims were able to get help in Minnesota – transportation to a safe location, crisis line support, legal assistance, safe housing, protection orders – a network of interdependent services.

These services exist because of public investments: domestic abuse agencies are an essential connector in a network that includes law enforcement, prosecutors, the education system, the medical system, and social services.

Unfortunately, these services have suffered cuts in recent years, and the network doesn’t reach every part of the state. It’s time to raise the revenues needed to fund these critical services.