SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House Committee on Children and Families Finance & Policy heard the amended HF 2471, the Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act of 2023. This legislation would provide affordable, high-quality child care and early learning for all children, with livable wages for educators, at a total cost of $6 billion per biennium.
“Child care and early learning is critical for the success of our society, both now and long into the future,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul), author of the legislation and chair of the House Children and Families Committee. “With a $17.5 billion state budget surplus, this is the year to get all young kids off to a great start in Minnesota.”
Committee members have previously heard testimony and research that high-quality early care and learning makes a huge difference in the lives of children, with the earliest months and years of life having the biggest payoff. But the sector has been in a crisis for decades - unaffordable and even inaccessible child care for families while paying poverty wages to early childhood educators. This has led to workforce shortages today and opportunity gaps for children in the future.
The Great Start Act would address this crisis through multiple means. It would greatly expand eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), invest nearly $1.4 billion in early learning scholarships, and eventually, combine these programs into a new "Great Start Scholarship Program" to provide stable and predictable support for families.
“I took a cut in my salary to move to a fully remote job so that I can care for my children and work at the same time,” said Rahma Hudle, an Apple Valley parent of young children. “I am not doing this because I want to. No one wants to experience both the exhaustion and the guilt of feeling like you can neither parent nor do your job to the best of your abilities. The only reason that I have my kids at home while I am working is because I have little other choices. We cannot afford child care.”
The legislation would also make permanent the monthly payments that have been paid to child care providers over the last 18 months, helping to provide some stability to the sector. This provision and several others in the Great Start Act have also been proposed by the Walz-Flanagan administration.
“This bill would mean that teachers at my center will be able to contribute to their family’s financial situations positively,” said Courtney Griener, of Mini Mos Child Care Center in Esko.“We would be able to reduce turnover and create true career opportunities for our teachers, which means more quality care and education for the kids in our settings. This bill would be transformative for child care centers like mine.”
Lastly, the bill would advance systemic reforms, including a model for estimating the true cost of services, a wage scale for early childhood educators, a centralized system for CCAP provider registration functions, and significant information technology investments.
HF 2471 as amended was laid over for inclusion in the committee's budget bill. More information can be found on the committee’s website.