To the editor,
Access to quality, affordable child care is an especially challenging issue in Greater Minnesota and I look forward to taking a hard look at this subject during an Oct. 3 hearing the House of Representatives is conducting in Winona.
A main focus of mine since joining the House in January has been to mitigate the child care shortage we are experiencing. My appointment to the recently created Family Child Care Task Force has allowed me to work especially close to this issue. The panel is required to submit a report to the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2021, outlining the group’s findings and recommendations, and including any draft legislation necessary to implement the changes.
My mantra is that healthy families result in healthy communities and a key component to that is to ensure quality, affordable child care is available to families while they are working. Our mission as a state should be to find that sweet spot between making sure our children are receiving safe care while also allowing child care providers to function as best and as equitably as they can.
To the contrary, high child care costs have reduced child care choices for families and have compounded problems regarding our workforce shortage in Greater Minnesota. It is hard to attract young families to many parts of the state where choices for quality, affordable child care are limited.
It is concerning that our state’s onerous and burdensome regulatory structure has led to the closure of numerous family child care opportunities. Issues related to state licensing and inspections are among the most significant hindrances.
We also need to focus on eliminating rampant child care fraud, waste and abuse that has been revealed in Minnesota to ensure assistance from the state is reaching the families who need it. The continued lack of transparency and information from the Department of Human Services regarding rampant child care fraud is especially concerning. We have been waiting several months for details of exactly how child care fraud has been allowed to continue in Minnesota, but the public continues to be shut out amid extreme dysfunction within DHS.
I am sincerely grateful for this opportunity to serve on this task force so I can help find workable solutions to prevent our state from doing such a disservice to so many highly skilled, underappreciated child care workers – and our families.
A House hearing scheduled to take place in Winona is a good time to take a hard look at issues impacting child care in Minnesota. It will be 1:30 p.m., Oct. 3 at the Winona County History Center (160 Johnson St., Winona).
If you are able to attend the meeting, your direct input would be greatly appreciated. If you are unable to be there in person, your feedback always is welcome by phone at (651) 296-4373 or by emailing email@example.com.
State Rep. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring