News release: Director hired for Governor's Children's Cabinet

News Release
June 18, 2013

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Director hired for Governor's Children's Cabinet

Marcie Jefferys has been hired as director of the Governor's Children's Cabinet, which focuses on ensuring all Minnesota Children are healthy, safe, and prepared to achieve their full potential. Governor Mark Dayton has made early childhood a priority and has committed to better results through improved coordination and efficiencies as illustrated by the creation of the Children's Cabinet, the establishment of an Office of Early Learning and appointment of an Early Learning Council.

The Children's Cabinet was established by the Governor in August 2011 and includes Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger and Commissioner of Human Services Lucinda Jesson. The Early Learning Council is one of the groups advising the Children's Cabinet.

The purpose of the cabinet is to better coordinate and align policies, programs and resources across state agencies and communities to support improved outcomes for Minnesota children. Cabinet activities include releasing a January 2013 report on adverse childhood experiences in Minnesota, tasking the Minnesota Department of Health to create a plan for improving the health and well-being of children during their first three years of life, and implementing the $45 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant, which is designed to improve early learning and development opportunities for children up to 5 years old.

"The Children's Cabinet plays a critical role in aligning our efforts across agencies to ensure every single child is fully supported," Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. "From increased access to a high-quality education to addressing child poverty and mental illness, we have made tremendous progress in our work. Marcie will be an important part of advancing those efforts going forward."

In the fall of 2012, the Children's Cabinet developed a strategic plan to guide its cross-agency work. The cabinet identified three critical populations that would benefit from greater coordination and collaboration across the Minnesota Departments of Health, Education and Human Services: teen parents and their children, infants and toddlers living in poverty, and school children with untreated mental illness.

"The Children's Cabinet is looking forward to building on the progress Minnesota is making toward the goal of ensuring that all the children in the state have the opportunity to thrive and succeed," said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

Less than a year later, the cabinet achieved many of the strategic plan's action steps. Today, more Minnesota children - especially those most at risk of being unprepared for kindergarten - will have access to higher quality and consistent child care and early learning experiences. In addition, twice as many schools will be helping children who need mental health care, thereby decreasing problem behaviors and increasing the likelihood those children will succeed in school. Child care assistance also will be available for teen parents so they can complete their high school education.

Jefferys, who started her full-time position in April, was previously the policy development director for the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota and the director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota. She also has experience working as staff at the Minnesota Legislature, including chief fiscal analyst for the House. Her education background includes a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, a master's degree from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor's degree from Carleton College.

"To have someone of Marcie's experience lead the work of the Children's Cabinet is an advantage for the children and families who will benefit from our collaborative decisions," said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. "Together we will make improvements in children's lives."

Since her work involves three state agencies, Jefferys will office out of a different agency each year, starting with Health and then rotating to Education and Human Services in future years.


Media inquiries:

Michael Schommer
MDH Communications