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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Franson (R)

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Select Committee on Affordable Child Care Unveils Legislation

Monday, March 21, 2016

Select Committee on Affordable Child Care Unveils Legislation to Help Stop Provider Losses, Encourage Child Care Business Development, and Create Long-term Solutions for Cost and Access

Bipartisan legislation developed after listening to hundreds of voices of parents, providers, and community leaders

SAINT PAUL, MINN—On Monday, March 21, 2016, the Select Committee on Affordable Child Care unveiled legislation designed to address and help halt the child care shortage in Minnesota, encourage child care business development, and look for long-term solutions to improve access and cost issues for both parents and providers. This reform legislation is the result of ideas and suggestions put forth by parents and child care providers across the state who attended listening tours hosted by the committee in February.

“The reforms in this legislation are the result of hours of meetings with providers and families across Minnesota, discussing the challenges they face every day in accessing and operating child care services,” said Chair Mary Franson, R-Alexandria. “As I’ve said at all of our committee meetings, kids aren’t partisan—and it’s for kids, parents, providers, and Minnesota communities that we worked together to bring forward this legislation. When child care thrives, our state thrives. It’s really the building block of our economy.”

“Every child deserves a strong start in life. Supporting child care providers and improving access to care is a key element of what we must do to build a better future for our kids,” said Rep. Peggy Flanagan, DFL-St. Louis Park. “I look forward to working together to make child care a priority this session.”

With an exodus of child care providers across the state limiting options and increasing costs for parents, some provisions in the legislation aim to prevent more losses by advocating for providers, streamlining administrative and paperwork overload that currently burdens these small business owners, and eliminating inconsistencies in licensing enforcement.

To get more people in the field, the legislation promotes business development by encouraging community collaboration to develop unique community solution plans to address local needs, and minimize a seemingly overwhelming start-up process by creating a simple, how-to guide on starting a child care business in multiple, innovative capacities.

And finally, based on the productive dialogue the committee had across the state, it is recognized that the issue of cost and access is complex and needs careful vetting and unpacking. The legislation creates a task force to continue the discussion—with all voices at the table—to address the scope and intricacies of the issue and develop long-term solutions and reforms, while maintaining our nation-leading quality and safety standards.

Initiatives in this legislation would:

  • Create a task force committed to vetting and unpacking the complex issues causing high costs and access issues in child care, while maintaining nation-leading quality and safety standards
  • Produce a manual on how to start a child care small business, in multiple capacities, to clarify the process and make it easier for people to enter the profession
  • Provide consistent application of the laws and regulations relating to child care providers by providing a single set of uniform standards for licensing staff
  • Provide economic development grants for communities that create unique community solution plans to address local needs, including public/private partnerships, investment in in-home provider start-ups, expansion of child care within local businesses, using existing community resources like nursing homes, and other alternative solutions
  • Direct the Department of Human Services (DHS) to consider the feasibility of launching an online resource to streamline and reduce redundancies in paperwork and to access all necessary information (about licensure, new laws and regulations, training, etc.) for their business in one location
  • Direct DHS to advocate for and be responsive to questions and concerns of child care providers in a timely manner

Franson continued, “This committee is about giving Minnesotans a voice to share their experiences. As a committee, and as individual legislators, we are committed to finding innovative solutions that address these challenges. Our work is only just beginning.”