SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Today, the Minnesota House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee held a remote hearing to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on early care and learning. The pandemic has shut down many providers, and left others on the brink of closure, even as essential workers rely on them for care.
“Child care is the backbone of Minnesota’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – every vital sector depends on it,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – St. Paul), Chair of the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. “Providers were already in financial crisis. Significant public support will be needed to keep them open and caring for children so health care professionals and other essential workers can continue caring for Minnesotans.”
Sgt. Kate Petersen, with the Pequot Lakes Police Department in central Minnesota, recently won an award for saving the life of an area woman. She testified that her long-term child care provider has closed, and that she is concerned that her new provider - the only one open in her town - may close as well.
Several weeks ago, the state established a $30 million grant program to help providers stay open to care for the children of essential workers. But the funding is expected to support only about 1,200 providers, and more than 6,000 have applied. Testifiers said that those that do not receive grants are likely to close, even in the next few weeks, leaving essential workers at risk of losing care.
Testifiers also included a provider from Ada, in northwest Minnesota; Tony Sertich, president of the Northland Foundation; and several others.
Supporting documents can be found on the committee’s webpage. Video of the hearing will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.