Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday he is relaunching the Children’s Cabinet, following the lead of former Govs. Mark Dayton and Arne Carlson.
It’s the third iteration of a working group of state officials tasked with making sure all Minnesota children get a strong start in life. This version, Walz said, would take a new approach and closely track results.
“You’ll judge us by the results at the end,” Walz said. “Shame on me if we’re back here and the next governor is trying to relaunch the Children’s Cabinet.”
The cabinet will work to make sure services for children are well-coordinated across the state’s many agencies and through public-private partnerships. Some key challenges include improving families’ access to prenatal health services, child care, education, mental health help and housing.
The group’s progress can be measured by graduation rates and the number of homeless children, Walz said. Long-term he hopes to lower incarceration rates and reduce the wealth and homeownership gaps between white families and families of color.
Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan will lead the cabinet, which is largely made up of state agency commissioners and advised by a diverse group of families, children and organizations that work with kids.
Minnesota ranks near the top on quality-of-life measures for children who are white, but the story is different for children of color, Walz said.
“If we leave anyone out and there are not equitable outcomes in the things we do here — whether it be in housing or whether it be in transportation and transit and how we move people, or education — any one of those things will hold back this state and we won’t fulfill that promise,” Walz said.
The creation of the Children’s Cabinet has been in the works for months. Walz said the preparation time helped them clarify what issues to focus on and consult with partners outside state government. He said the cabinet would hold its first meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Jazzlyn Eubanks, a 15-year-old who introduced Walz at Wednesday’s event, said she and the governor are in agreement on the central point of the cabinet: “Young people like me are our future, and that young people and children like me are the smartest investment the state can make.”