SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Yesterday, the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee heard and discussed a presentation on the economics of child care and early learning, including the need for public investment in this essential resource for the youngest Minnesotans and their families and communities.
“High-quality early care and learning is foundational to our economy and to our society,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – St. Paul), chair of the committee. “It allows parents to work, businesses to grow, and children to get the great start they need for success in school and life. Like other public infrastructure, including education and transportation, this critical sector needs public support.”
Legislators at the hearing heard testimony on how the economics of early care and learning place an enormous squeeze on families and providers alike. An average family in Minnesota with one infant pays nearly 20 percent of its income for child care, with many families paying a much higher percentage.
Meanwhile, child care is the lowest-paid occupation of any requiring a high school diploma; a third of workers in the profession are on public assistance. And their employers are doing no better; margins are razor-thin, with many subsidized by churches, nonprofits, and even individual donations. Low compensation and high turnover undermine the consistent relationships and enriching experiences that young children need.
Presenters at the hearing included Christa Anders, Coordinator, Transforming Minnesota’s Early Childhood Workforce; Jamie Bonczyk, former Executive Director at the recently-closed Hopkins Early Learning Center; and Oriane Casale, Interim Labor Market Information Director, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.