While the workforce shortage is a major challenge for many sectors of the economy, a representative of the Minnesota Child Care Association said it has become “a catastrophe” in his industry.
Testifying Thursday before the House Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee, Phil Griffin said the state’s child care workforce is 8% lower than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are working hard to try and fix that, but we need your assistance,” Griffin said. “The child care workforce is the workforce behind the workforce, and if you don’t have child care you don’t have other workers.”
A bill sponsored by Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL-Eden Prairie) is meant to help. HF2106, laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill, contains a package of licensing changes to provide child care centers with more workforce flexibility.
“I think this bill, as a whole, would really just ease some of the burden on our child care providers as they work to support and grow their existing workforce,” Kotyza-Witthuhn said.
Changes for licensed child care centers proposed in the bill include:
A group of retired early childhood professionals called Elders for Infants submitted a letter of opposition to the bill, questioning whether significant changes to rules governing employment at child care centers are wise or effective.
“By permanently reducing credential requirements, especially by law, we put our children’s safety and development at risk,” they wrote, adding that solving the problem of low wages and benefits would be a better way to solve the workforce shortage.
Kotyza-Witthuhn said conversations on exact bill language are ongoing and Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul), who chairs the committee, said it could be included in a future omnibus bill addressing licensing reforms for child care centers.