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Minnesota child care providers seek many changes

ST. PAUL -- Child care providers say they face a myriad of problems the Minnesota Legislature needs to solve.Julie Seydel of the Minnesota Association of Child Care Professionals told a Senate committee Monday that her members face a range of iss...

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ST. PAUL - Child care providers say they face a myriad of problems the Minnesota Legislature needs to solve.
Julie Seydel of the Minnesota Association of Child Care Professionals told a Senate committee Monday that her members face a range of issues: increasing paperwork, higher operating costs, increasing liability insurance premiums, ever-increasing regulations, changing interpretation of rules and a more adversarial relationship with state officials.
"These increasing demands have played a key role in the loss of thousands of child care providers in the past decade," Seydel said, adding that an average of one child care provider a day has left the profession in that time.
She said that she supports legislation by Sen. Vicki Jensen, D-Owatonna, and Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, to study ways to improve home-based child care services with the focus on keeping them in business.
"It is a much needed step to make sure children get the care they and their parents need," Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said.
Jensen's bill was target of several questions that could lead to the legislation changing as it goes through future committees.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, said her concern is to make sure greater Minnesota lawmakers serve on the task force because their areas face different needs than the Twin Cities.
For instance, Rosen said, the need for affordable housing and workforce training affect greater Minnesota child care needs.
Rosen suggested that the state may need to provide incentives for businesses to provide child care for employees.
When Franson announced her task force bill last month, she unveiled a study that showed more than 3,000 providers left the business in a decade. The issue especially affects greater Minnesota, where 17 counties have 25 or fewer providers.
Parents report a difficulty finding child care in much of greater Minnesota, particularly for infants.
Franson led a committee that visited several greater Minnesota communities earlier this year looking at the situation.
The nonprofit organization Child Care Aware reports that Minnesota has some of the country's least-affordable child care. The organization reported the average annual infant care costs $14,366 in center-based care facilities, but just $7,345 for in-home care.

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