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Reader's View: Legislature must step up for child care

Families can’t afford to pay more than college tuition so their children’s early-childhood teachers can put food on the table.

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As a mother of a 1-year-old, a former child-care director, and a child-care start-up and retention navigator with Child Care Aware, I have experienced the child-care crisis. I’ve struggled to find affordable, high-quality care for my daughter. As a director, I struggled to pay teachers a living wage and charge families an affordable tuition. I continue to struggle to piece together resources for child-care providers that fall short of their needs.

Mastering the skilled work of child care takes years of education, experience, and grit — plus thousands of diaper changes along the way. No wonder providers are experiencing burnout. If child-care professionals are to utilize vacation time, maintain small teacher-to-student ratios, and prioritize their own wellbeing, Minnesota needs to fund child care in a real and comprehensive way.

We as a community can’t continue to take advantage of the few kind hearts who take on this important work. Families can’t afford to pay more than college tuition so their children’s early-childhood teachers can put food on the table. Employers can’t continue to lose workers who are pushed out of the workforce to stay home with their children rather than foot the bill for child-care tuition. Our children can’t continue to miss out on the quality care they deserve because their family can’t afford it.

The new Minnesota Legislature has the opportunity to fully fund child care to bridge the gap of affordability for families and a living wage for teachers, while supporting Minnesota businesses and children.

We need to count on the Minnesota Legislature to lead the way to a comprehensive solution to the child-care crisis.

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Leah Budnik

Duluth

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