Waite Park, MINN—On Wednesday, March 2nd, local state representatives Tama Theis, R-St. Cloud, Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, Tim O'Driscoll, R-Sartell, and Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, along with members of the newly formed House Select Committee on Affordable Child Care, held a listening session in Waite Park. Over the past month, the Select Committee on Affordable Child Care has been touring Greater Minnesota to hear from parents and providers about the challenges they face, and to partner with them to craft innovative solutions.
"Central Minnesota is a wonderful place to raise children, but there must be affordable child care options for working families," said Rep. Theis, a member of the committee. "The input from parents and child care providers in our community at this meeting was valuable and will help us craft legislation this session."
"If parents do not have access to child care, it is not only frustrating for them, but also an economic concern for employees and employers in St. Cloud and our surrounding communities. This is an important issue," said Rep. Knoblach.
According to data from the Department of Human Services, Minnesota has lost 21.4 percent of its child care providers in the past decade, and Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties have seen a 17.5 percent decrease in that time.
"During the meeting, daycare providers shared the obstacles and barriers they face every day, and that information is essential as we reexamine the relationship between the state and local business owners who provide this essential service to families," Rep. O'Driscoll stated.
Rep. Howe added, "There is a lot of frustration among providers regarding over-regulation and inconsistency in the enforcement of regulations. This is chasing a lot of providers out of the industry. There is a clear lack of assistance from state licensors and even people from the Department of Human Services admit they have a lot of work to do in improving services and making licensors more customer-friendly."