Hauschild aims to help families, workforce with child care tax credit

The bill for the tax credit was read at a Minnesota Senate tax committee hearing last week and has been laid over for the omnibus bill.

Three people speak in a preschool
Kickstart Preschool and Childcare Center owner Deb Archer, center, speaks to Sen. Grant Hauschild, DFL-Hermantown, right, while her husband, Brett Archer, looks on at Kickstart Preschool and Childcare Center in Two Harbors on March 3.
Laura Butterbrodt / Duluth News Tribune

TWO HARBORS — Sen. Grant Hauschild, DFL-Hermantown, took a trip up the North Shore on Friday, March 3, to meet with child care center owners and families to see what the state can do to help them afford child care costs and remain in the workforce.

Hauschild is the chief author of Senate File 9, a child and dependent care tax credit that would decouple Minnesotans from the federal credit and increase the amount of eligible expenses, especially for those with young children.

In addition to the child care tax credit, Hauschild said he is also fighting for ways to support child care providers, because the cost of child care is already unaffordable for many families, yet providers are barely making enough money to keep employees and stay open.

"We as a society should want our kids, that age 0-5, to have the best opportunities for their development and education and wellbeing, and yet the way our system works, those are some of the lowest paid people that care for our kids," Hauschild said. "That just seems to be a fundamental problem to me. I want people to aspire to make that their career forever and feel like they’re getting the wages they deserve.”

Hauschild stopped at Kickstart Preschool and Childcare Center in Two Harbors, where he spoke to owners Deb and Brett Archer about their experience as the only center in town offering care for infants through preschool age. Kickstart's director, Deb Archer, who also spends a lot of time in teaching roles at the center, said it's been difficult to turn a profit. She had to raise tuition costs in November, but inflation has still made it difficult for her to earn enough money to pay her employees, who she believes are already underpaid.


“Tuition is the only revenue stream," Archer said. "It’s not like I’m selling T-shirts. I don't have any other thing that I’m selling besides this, so the income is not covering what our expenses are.”

Brett Archer added that through stabilization grants, they were able to give the Kickstart teachers a raise during the COVID-19 pandemic, thinking they'd have to bring their payment back down when the grants ran out. But now, they don't dare do that, knowing the cost of living is increasing and the teachers could leave for another job that's less stressful than taking care of a room full of children.

Three people smile while posing for a photo
Sen. Grant Hauschild, DFL-Hermantown, Deb Archer and Brett Archer at Kickstart Preschool and Childcare Center in Two Harbors on Friday, March 3, 2023.
Laura Butterbrodt / Duluth News Tribune

“What’s going to happen when that $5,000 that we’re counting on dries up?” Deb Archer said of the stabilization grants.

Kerissa Graden, child care coordinator at Little Mariners Child Care Center in Silver Bay, told Hauschild a similar sentiment when he met with her and other providers, parents and the city administrator later that evening.

"The tax credit bill is great — it helps — but it's not enough," Graden said in an email to the News Tribune. "It's a good step in the right direction, but we have more work to do in the child care system to make it affordable for families, and sustainable for providers. Continuing the stabilization and hardship grants for child care providers is necessary to keep us afloat."

People walk down a hallway at a preschool
Kerissa Graden, left, guides Sen. Grant Hauschild, center, and other visitors through Little Mariners Child Care Center at William Kelley School in Silver Bay on March 3.
Contributed / Kerissa Graden

Graden said about 95% of the center's revenue goes toward paying staff, with only enough left to pay for the basics like food and necessary supplies. Little Mariners is located in the William Kelley School, so the center doesn't have to pay as much for building costs, but it's not enough to get them to turn a profit. Graden said if all families of children at the center could afford their tuition costs in January, they would've been able to break even, but rates are already higher than some parents can afford.

Even the pandemic’s grip on the economy loosens, a new challenge is cropping up for child care professionals at the new facility, and for teachers, across the region: an apparent labor shortage.

"We aren't here to make money," Graden said. "We're here to support families in our community. How do we pay our teachers enough to keep them here, without putting added financial strain on our families?"

Olivia Bonander, a parent whose son is enrolled at Little Mariners, said the center opening changed her and her husband's lives because it was the first time they could access reliable child care locally. However, she's observed the impact short staffing and underpaid staff has on both providers and the children they care for.


"Closures, shortened hours, and stressed and overworked staff affect the children heavily as they need consistent and high-quality care to thrive," Bonander said. "If we want to raise up a successful next generation, investment in our children is paramount. We need better funding and infrastructure for child care centers, in-home child care and after school programs. We need time and money for continuing education for current staff and better wages to recruit and retain staff."

more about child care
The governor on Wednesday detailed his plan for bigger reimbursements for child care providers and tax credits for parents that could lower costs and improve access.
Minnesota often tops lists for most expensive child care in the U.S. Areas outside the Twin Cities metro lost more than 20,000 child care slots between 2000 and 2020.
The program, which has acquired a new building and plans to have a space specifically for teens, serves about 400 students a year.
A shortage of workers forced KEY Zone to put many children on waiting lists.
A lack of available child care slots has been an issue in Carlton County since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. But the pandemic thrust the issue into the spotlight and has spurred some action by local officials.
The city will provide up to $10,000 to fund new or expanded child care options.
Members Only
Know an essential worker with a story to share? Email Melinda Lavine at or call 218-723-5346.
The Superior Housing Authority's eviction of long-time residents and child care providers doesn't sit well with families affected.

For some families, it's cheaper to become stay-at-home parents than to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on child care. However, Bonander said not all parents have the luxury of that option, and depend on their incomes, even if child care takes a huge fraction of it.

Hauschild said his intention of the child and dependent care tax credit is to ensure people who want to be part of the workforce get the opportunity to work and aren't kept home because of unaffordable or unreliable child care. In addition to his tax credit, he's also supportive of Senate File 53, which would increase child care stabilization grants and early learning scholarships, and Senate File 2398, which would establish a Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Both bills are authored by Sen. Melissa Wicklund, DFL-Bloomington.

Lydia Boerboom, an organizer of Kids Count on Us through the coalition ISAIAH, said child care providers currently have to go through four state agencies for licensing, regulations and paperwork: the Minnesota departments of health, education, human services and public safety, plus sometimes the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

A lack of available child care slots has been an issue in Carlton County since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. But the pandemic thrust the issue into the spotlight and has spurred some action by local officials.

Often, the regulations are punitive of child care providers instead of constructive, and inspectors can be inconsistent with citations. Having one department for providers to work with would simplify the process and save providers time, Boerboom said, plus could help them pass inspections more easily with clearer guidelines.

Hauschild's tax credit was read at a Senate tax committee hearing last week and has been laid over for the omnibus bill. The credit ranges from $3,000-$12,000, depending on income and number of children. People with incomes of $420,000 and under would qualify, with a tiered decrease in credit as the income increases.

“I think the big takeaway is that it is really, really, critically important that we support our kids and their development, and that we support families that are trying to afford this increasing cost that continues to be a burden," Hauschild said of his visits with constituents. "We continue to hear about workforce issues and this is one way among many that we can try to make it easier for people in the younger generations that are coming up through the workforce to stay in the workforce and support their families.”

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
What To Read Next
Get Local