SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Minnesotans gathered at the State Capitol today for a Child Care Day of Action, urging lawmakers to invest in affordable and accessible early care and learning, as well as livable wages for teachers and providers. Many of these investments are contained in supplemental budget bills that have passed the Minnesota House of Representatives and are currently being negotiated with the Minnesota Senate.
“Every child in our state deserves a great start,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – St. Paul), chair of the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. “House DFLers are prioritizing the youngest Minnesotans and their families, for the benefit of all of us.”
Child care and early learning are essential for our economy and society, allowing parents to work, employers to expand, and communities to thrive. But these critical services are unaffordable or even inaccessible for many families. To help, House DFLers approved a Health and Human Services budget that significantly increases reimbursement rates for the Child Care Assistance Program. This will allow more than 30,000 children from low-income families to access care. The bill also makes more families eligible for CCAP, including foster parents, custodians, and guardians, and reduces waiting lists.
The E-12 Education budget that House DFLers passed expands Early Head Start and awards early learning scholarships to more than 20,000 low-income and vulnerable infants and toddlers. Once these children turn four, they’ll have access to a statewide voluntary pre-kindergarten program, through local schools, Head Start, and licensed child care providers. Together, these investments will help to close Minnesota’s opportunity gaps and put thousands of children on the path to success in school and in life.
House DFLers are also providing support to middle-income families, who struggle greatly to afford child care as well. House DFLers passed a Tax bill that establishes a Great Start Dependent Care Tax Credit to provide families with up to $3,000 for each child under five years of age, with a cap of $7,500.
In addition, the House Health and Human Services budget continues the monthly grants that have helped providers continue operating for the past two years. This recognizes that ongoing public support is needed for this public good. 70 percent of these funds are used to increase wages for child care workers, who often receive poverty-level wages.
Finally, the House Workforce Development budget contains $4 million in grants to expand the supply of child care throughout the state.