Walz relaunches Children's Cabinet to tackle key issues

The cabinet was established by statute in 1993 but has had a low profile in recent years.

Governor Walz surrounded by children at executive order signing
Surrounded by young children, Gov. Tim Walz signs an executive order to reestablish a Children’s Cabinet in state government. Walz issued the order on Wednesday.
Tim Pugmire I MPR News

DFL Gov. Tim Walz is pledging to make children’s issues a more visible priority in his administration.

Walz signed an executive order Wednesday during a Capitol news conference that relaunches the Children’s Cabinet, which was first established by statute in 1993.

“Children are our future,” Walz said. “Every decision that we make is going to impact them in some way or another.”

The cabinet is made up of commissioners from several state agencies. Walz wants the members to help better align state services related to children and their families, including education, health care, childcare and housing. His executive order also calls for recommendations on how to improve those systems.

“Like any policy that we put forward, if the commitment is not there to execute it, if the commitment is not there to measure results, it will simply drift away and be a piece of paper,” the governor said.

Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan will co-chair the cabinet meetings.

Several nonprofit organizations support of the effort.

Bharti Wahi, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, said the reconstituted cabinet shows a big commitment to children’s issues.

“We know that our systems can and must be improved in order to ensure race, income and place do not define a child’s path in life,” Wahi said. “We must design systems that amplify the strength and talents and brilliance of all of our children.”

State Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, was also on hand to support the governor’s plan. Abeler said he was impressed that Walz and Flannagan will be leading the effort.

“That’s a big deal,” Abeler said. “That means they’re serious compared to sending it off to some people to go do whatever. So, this could actually work.”

The cabinet was scheduled to hold its first official meeting on Wednesday.