Betsy Hodges Outlines Cradle-To-K Initiative

End the series of opportunity gaps our children face by improving care and resources for pregnant women and young children

August 12, 2013 (Minneapolis) — Citing the link between low kindergarten readiness rates and high school graduation rates among Minneapolis students, Minneapolis City Council Member and mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges outlined her “Cradle-To-K” initiative for expecting parents and young children today:


“Minneapolis’ graduation rate is unacceptably low (50.1%), and is startlingly low for Hispanic students (36.8%), black students (36.8%), American Indian students (25%), boys (45.6%), and low-income students (41.5%). Even for white students, the graduation rate (69.8%) is far below the statewide average (83.9%). When we change those numbers – for all students – we will be the great 21st century city that we must be. The adults of Minneapolis need to feel the urgency of the situation Minneapolis kids are facing: a series of opportunity gaps that is leaving many – at every turn – destined to achieve less in their lifetimes.


“While there is a great deal of good work happening, the status quo is not acceptable. I want everyone to be a part of giving the best opportunities to all Minneapolis children, and the only price for admission is to be able, willing, and ready: able to approach this issue with urgency, willing to be challenged, and ready to take action for Minneapolis children.


“However, a Mayor must do more than convene. A Mayor can do two broad things to impact children’s lives and education. One is to address broader opportunity gaps, such as housing, transit, income, and health and public safety services, and I will continue to lead on those issues as I have on the City Council. The other is specific interventions. Just as Minneapolis came together – public, private and non-profit sectors – to tackle youth violence and to create our “Step Up” program for youth employment, now we will have the greatest impact by focusing on the years before school. Research tells us that intervention in those prenatal to pre-k years significantly affects cognitive development and can have a decisive impact on a child’s entire life.


“My Cradle-To-K initiative will have several key components, which will be executed with support from our partners:

  • Expansion of the Healthy Start program, which serves low-income and vulnerable families with the skills, care, and resources to care for pregnant mothers and infants, to cover all of Minneapolis
  • Expanded access to stable, high quality, child-centered childcare
  • A Mayor’s Cabinet on Cradle-To-K, which will serve as the hub for the community of dedicated stakeholders, ensure there are no early childhood programming or coverage gaps, and facilitate resource-sharing


On the day I launched my campaign I said the biggest challenge we have before us is that we are becoming a city of haves and have-nots and that we will only become the great 21st Century City we all want to be when these opportunity gaps are addressed. Those divisions begin before birth. That is why I am starting right now – on the day I file to be your next Mayor – to begin this initiative.”


For Immediate Release, August 12, 2013

CONTACT: Aaron Wells,, (612) 751-4255

Backgrounder: Cradle-To-K


Our children are facing a series of opportunity gaps that is leaving many – at every turn – destined to achieve less in their lifetimes. Minneapolis’ graduation rate is unacceptably low (50.1%), and is startlingly low for Hispanic students (36.8%), black students (36.8%), American Indian students (25%), boys (45.6%), and low-income students (41.5%). Even for white students, the graduation rate (69.8%) is far below the statewide average (83.9%).  But it would be foolish to ignore that these trends show up long before graduation, in kindergarten – and earlier. Kindergarten readiness – or the lack of readiness – has enormous influence on whether a student will be up to an appropriate reading level in the third grade, which significantly influences whether a student will graduate.


There is an enormous opportunity gap in the kindergarten readiness of Minneapolis children.  According to some of the most recent statistics, 44% of Hispanic children, 53% of American Indian children, 69% of black children, 73% of Asian children, and 79% of white children show up to kindergarten prepared.  Every one of those numbers only worsens for reading ability in the third grade.


Clearly it is not enough to merely close this gap; every student must be ready for kindergarten when they arrive. That is the reason so many policy leaders and researchers agree that in order to have a lasting and meaningful impact on the success of our children, we must look to prenatal care and care of children from ages 0-3. Betsy Hodges will bring 21st century solutions to her work to offer every young child in Minneapolis equality of opportunity in these areas:


An opportunity for a Healthy Start: The first opportunity that many of our young children are denied is a fair shot at being born into the world alive and healthy and to parents who have the knowledge and resources to provide for them. Healthy Start has helped low-income and vulnerable families in Minneapolis and throughout America dramatically improve infant mortality rates, birth weights, parents’ access to and use of health care, food, and housing during and after pregnancy.  Healthy Start ensures babies are born healthy and at an appropriate weight, and empowers parents to meet the basic needs of infants and pregnant mothers, and to educate their children in the home. As Mayor, Betsy Hodges will work with all partners to expand Healthy Start beyond just a few zip codes, to make sure all low-income and vulnerable families can give the same opportunity to their infants.


An opportunity to get quality childcare: By now, it should go without saying that pre-k is a non-negotiable part of giving every child the opportunity to succeed. But research shows that young children can fall behind in their development even before pre-k without proper care. Young children without consistent access to development-centered childcare fail to keep pace with their peers who have stable, quality childcare. As Mayor, Betsy Hodges will prioritize working with the Youth Coordinating Board and childcare providers to ensure stable access to quality, development-centered childcare, and using all of her resources to ensure that childcare in Minneapolis is child-centered.


An opportunity to work together: Betsy Hodges’ Mayoral Cabinet on Cradle-to-K will govern the initiative and serve as the hub for the community of dedicated, passionate stakeholders who are and will be working on giving all of our young children the best possible opportunities. The Cabinet will ensure that there are no gaps in early childhood programming and coverage.  It will also facilitate resource-sharing to maximize the public’s investment.


An opportunity to innovate: Betsy has said all along that, as Mayor, she will keep moving Minneapolis’s momentum forward as a destination for socially responsible startups.  As Mayor, she will make our city an incubator for social enterprise, encouraging businesses with a dual mission of making profit and providing a public service. She will focus specifically on incentivizing entrepreneurs to start businesses with missions to serve young children.