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|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2014
|For More Information Contact:
Jessica Anderson (651) 230-2486
Saint Paul, Minn. – Minnesota reports a $1-billion surplus, according to the state budget and economic forecast released today by the Minnesota Management and Budget agency. The forecast will guide Governor Mark Dayton’s budget proposal due to lawmakers on January 27th, 2015. Peggy Flanagan, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, released the following statement in response to the announcement:
“The surplus is evidence that Minnesota’s economy is on the right track. However, many Minnesota families still struggle to make ends meet. In fact, more than 1/3 of Minnesota children live in low-income households. As Governor Dayton considers how to use the surplus and creates his budget proposal, we hope he will prioritize funding for programs and policies, like the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program, that allow low-income parents to improve their family’s economic stability while providing opportunities for children that put them on a path to success. This two-generation approach will help break the cycle of poverty and build an even stronger future economy for the state of Minnesota.
“Child care helps children, families, and communities thrive. But for many Minnesota families, child care is not affordable or accessible. The average cost of care for an infant at a child care center in Minnesota is nearly $14,000 per year. That’s the fourth highest in the nation. When care isn’t affordable or accessible, families experience economic hardship and must rely more heavily on public assistance programs; parents are more likely to piece together inconsistent child care arrangements or be forced to miss work; and employers suffer from absenteeism and decreased productivity. On the other hand, making child care affordable and accessible would ensure that children can receive nurturing care in a consistent, familiar environment; parents can make ends meet and go to work to provide for their families; and communities can grow successful businesses and create a stronger current and future workforce.
“We are very pleased that Governor Dayton has expressed support for using a portion of the surplus to expand and increase the child care credit to help offset the high cost of child care in Minnesota. We also hope he will prioritize funding for the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program so that all eligible families can receive the help they desperately need. Nearly 7,000 low-income Minnesota families need assistance in order to get to work and provide for their families but are on a waitlist because the program receives a capped allocation that falls far short of demand. The surplus gives the governor the opportunity to start addressing this urgent problem that affects the future prosperity of children, families, communities, and ultimately our state.”
The Child Care Assistance Program provides financial assistance to help low-income families pay for child care so that parents can pursue employment or education leading to employment while their children receive nurturing care in a consistent, familiar environment. The program serves children ages birth through 12, or 13 if the child has special needs. In FY2013, 15% of children receiving CCAP were age birth-1, 23.3% were age 2-3, 24.2% were age 4-5, 37.3% were age 6-12 and .2% were age 13-14.
The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.