Early Childhood Programs
The Northland Foundation launched the KIDS PLUS Program in the early 1990s with one idea in mind: to more actively improve the wellbeing of children and youth in northeastern Minnesota. Since then, KIDS PLUS has blossomed into a whole family of initiatives to help communities in the region support the healthy development of children and young people, from birth to adulthood.
Early Childhood Initiative
The Early Childhood Initiative is focused on helping young children, from birth through the early elementary years, to thrive and have a healthy life of learning, achieving, and succeeding. The Northland Foundation has established 12 early childhood coalitions throughout the region and provides ongoing technical assistance and training opportunities to help them strengthen local resources for young children and families. The coalitions in our region include Carlton County, Hermantown/Proctor, Aitkin County, Itasca Area, Koochiching County, Mesabi East School District, Quad Cities Area, Hibbing, Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Cook County, and Ely.
Thrive Initiative: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
The Thrive Initiative was created in 2007 in response to community requests to increase knowledge about infant and early childhood mental health and to strengthen the continuum of care available for very young children and their families in Duluth, Proctor, and Hermantown. Thrive has thrived in northeastern Minnesota, with an active group of professionals who meet regularly to build a more interconnected network, participate in high-quality training, and implement innovative, research-based projects. Participants represent the medical, social work, early care and education, and public health sectors, among others. The Duluth-Proctor-Hermantown Thrive Initiative:
- Provides a forum for information-sharing to support the healthy social and emotional development of young children;
- Cultivates networking and relationship-building between the diverse people serving young children and their families;
- Spurs new partnerships, collaborations, and initiatives; and
- Offers local learning opportunities.
Parent Aware Pathways Initiative
Parent Aware Pathways is a special project of the Northland Foundation, in close partnership with Child Care Aware Minnesota-Northeast District, created to help increase the number of Parent Aware-rated child care providers serving families in the region. Parent Aware is the State of Minnesota’s early care and education quality-rating program. The Parent Aware Pathways Initiative offers information, training, incentives, technical assistance, and peer learning to licensed family or center-based child care providers to help them become Parent Aware-rated, maintain their rating, or move up the star rating scale.
Early Learning Scholarships
The Northland Foundation helps connect families in our region with state Early Learning Scholarships up to $7,500 per child, per year. Scholarships go toward the cost of high-quality child care and preschool. Families with children who are 3 or 4 years old may qualify, based on household income. In addition, children birth to 5 years old who have parent(s) under age 21, have been homeless, or receive foster care or child protective services also qualify and receive priority for funding. Early Learning Scholarships are funded with a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education using federal funding CFDA 84.027A, Special Education – Grants to States.