St. Paul, MN – This evening, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a pair of bills to deliver investments to stabilize child care and early learning in the state.
“Every child deserves a great start to life," said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL - St. Paul), chair of the House Children & Families Committee. "But this critical sector was in crisis even before the pandemic. The bills that we've passed today will help get kids, families, and providers the immediate support that they need as we build toward long-term investments."
“All Minnesota children deserve a great start in life,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Today, House DFLers are taking action, making early investments to support families and close our state’s unacceptable opportunity gaps. Our children are only young once. Investments now — like the ones we’re proposing — will positively impact them for the rest of their lives.”
HF 13, which passed, 69-59, would increase the maximum rates for all child care assistance (CCAP)-eligible children from the 30th or 40th percentile to the 75th percentile of the most recent survey of provider rates. A review of state rates shows that Minnesota is currently near the bottom. The rate change would apply to Minnesota children of all ages.
“Increasing the rates providers receive for CCAP will give childcare centers the resources they need to provide high quality childcare,” said Asia Ahmed, a Minneapolis parent of four and teacher at Plymouth Academy. “The rates have been way too low for way too long. The low rates mean that my paycheck, as a childcare teacher, is also too low.
“We need the legislature to continue to work towards funding quality childcare for every child, truly affordable for every family, and supporting lifelong careers for teachers.”
The second bill, HF 150, which passed 70-60, delivers a $52.5 million emergency investment in child care stabilization grants and early learning scholarships. It also includes $40 million in early learning scholarships, with expanding eligibility to start at birth, rather than the current age of three. This will provide early learning and care to an estimated 4,000 additional children.
“I have personally seen the positive impact that high quality child care and the Child Care Assistance program makes in the lives of the children and families in our state,” said Amanda Schillinger, Director at Pumpkin Patch Childcare and Learning Centers in Burnsville. “Now more than ever, our childcare centers need emergency funding right now to keep our doors open.”
The 2021 Legislature established the child care provider stabilization grant program for monthly base grants to help providers stay open and continue to provide care and learning. 70% of the funds go directly to compensate child care workers. But the size of the payments are currently scheduled to drop in half starting in March, threatening the fragile stability of providers. HF 150 would reverse this cut.
“The lack of affordable child care in Minnesota is holding parents back from working, holding businesses back from hiring, and holding kids back from getting a great start to life,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “Voting for this bill is a vote to address our workforce shortage and make Minnesota a more welcoming, supportive state for children and families.”
Video of the floor debate can be viewed on the House Public Information’s YouTube Channel.