Local View: Lawmakers must make child care a priority in Minnesota
From the column: "Without affordable, accessible, quality child care, our communities and economy suffer."
As directors of child-care centers in the seven-county region of Northeastern Minnesota, we were thrilled to see child care prioritized in Gov. Tim Walz’s budget proposal (“ Walz visits Duluth, touting education and early childhood spending plans ,” Feb. 1).
Yet, to support our families and child-care providers, we need to go even bigger.
The child-care system is badly broken due to years of underfunding. Families cannot afford the tuition required to keep our child-care businesses afloat; and we cannot afford to recruit, hire, and retain quality staff. Child-care centers and in-home family child-care providers are closing at unprecedented rates, leaving families and businesses in the lurch. We need billions of dollars to move us toward a sustainable child-care system, and this is the time to make it happen.
We need lawmakers’ help.
As child-care center directors, our top legislative priorities are strong budget targets for child care in committees across the state House and Minnesota Senate. Between $2 billion and $5 billion in child-care funding is estimated to be enough to continue funding retention payments to help child-care providers earn living wages; increase eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program to 85% of the state median income; fund early-learning scholarships so all who are eligible can receive them; streamline the background study process, including additional fingerprinting locations in greater Minnesota; form a Minnesota Department of Children, Youth, and Families to elevate child care to reflect its importance in our communities and economy; and support the Child Care Assistance Program to ensure sufficient funding moving forward.
We urge the Minnesota Legislature to consider these issues that affect so many in our society. Without affordable, accessible, quality child care, our communities and economy suffer. Now is the time to make changes to the child-care system so we can promote growth for the future.
Karin Sabyan of Queen of Peace Preschool in Cloquet submitted this to the News Tribune on behalf of a group called the Child Care Center Directors of Northeast Minnesota. Others in the group responsible for this commentary include Shelly Vanneste and Samitra Bridges of Mesabi Preschool Academy, Loni Stallsmith of YWCA Duluth's Early Childhood Center, Marc Wallace of Chester Creek Montessori, Sarah Wilcox of Lake Superior Zoo School, Marcia DeMeo-Morse of Hope for Kids Child Care, Jessi Anttila-Anderson of Young Minds Learning Center, Channon Richardson of University Nursery Schools, Kallie Thomas of Happy Times Daycare, Leslie McFadden of UMD Children's Place and UMD Preschool at the Park, Alex Zenner and India Salter of Summit School, Paula Poaletti-Schlotec of Little Mariners Child Care Center, Courtney Greiner of Mini Mos Child Care and Preschool, Shawntel Gruba of Iron Range Tykes, Brandie Folken of Brandie's Little Bear Learning Center, and Kristin Nelson of Little Lambs Preschool.