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March 17, 2015
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Jessica Anderson (651) 230-2486
Child care should be affordable and accessible for all Minnesota families, but for too many families it isn’t.
That’s the message behind the Kids Can’t Wait Coalition and several bills being heard in both houses of the Minnesota Legislature this session. At a Capitol press conference today, Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis), Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie - invited) and Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center - invited) spoke of the need to support families, children and communities by making child care more affordable.
Bipartisan legislation supported by the Kids Can’t Wait Coalition includes:
· Increasing funding for Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance so that all eligible families, including the over 5,500 families on the waiting list, can afford the child care that meets their needs;
· Increasing the reimbursement rates for child care providers participating in the Child Care Assistance Program so that more families can find affordable care; and
· Targeted improvements to the state’s Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to help more low- and moderate-income families afford the high cost of child care in Minnesota.
In Minnesota, the average annual cost of care for an infant in a child care center is $13,993. Making child care more accessible and affordable by increasing Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance:
· Allows parents to work,
· Provides children with long-lasting benefits from consistent and dependable care, and
· Ensures businesses can find and keep employees they need.
Parents and coalition members shared their experiences, highlighting the need to increase funding for child care assistance.
Elizabeth is a single mother of a 4-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. She has had to quit numerous jobs that don’t pay enough for her to afford child care. She qualifies for Basic Sliding Fee assistance but is on the waiting list along with more than 5,500 other Minnesota families.
“If I had assistance with my child care expenses, I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about how to pay my bills,” she said. “My children are old enough to understand that money is tight. I do my best to reassure them that everything is going to be okay, but honestly, I am struggling every day to believe that.”
Basic Sliding Fee has broad reach in terms of age of children served, where providers are located, and times of day child care is available. Nearly 40 percent of children currently covered by child care assistance are aged six and older, a category not covered by early childhood options.
“Parents have many factors to juggle when choosing the child care they need so they can work,” said Sen. Jeff Hayden. “Basic Sliding Fee gives parents the flexibility to choose care that meets their family’s unique needs.”
The state’s payments to providers through the Child Care Assistance Program are set well below what the median provider charges. Increasing reimbursement rates is crucial to offer parents the choices in care that they need.
“Investments in the Child Care Assistance Program allow parents to work and kids to succeed,” said Tim Marx, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. “All parents should have access to safe, reliable child care – especially those most in need, who are working to break cycles of poverty.”
Most Minnesota parents are in the workforce. Minnesota’s communities are strengthened when parents have access to affordable child care, allowing businesses to have the workers they need.
“If families aren’t able to afford the child care they need, businesses aren’t going to be able to find the employees they need,” said Rep. Mary Franson. “These bills begin to address these issues and support Minnesota’s children, families and businesses throughout the state.”
In addition, Minnesota’s Child and Dependent Tax Credit is available to families to offset a portion of their child care costs so that parents can work or look for work. Proposed legislation would update the credit to keep up with the rising cost of child care, and make it available to more families for whom child care is a large part of their budgets.
For more information and links to bills: http://www.mnbudgetproject.org/current-agenda/making-affordable-child-care-available-to-more-minnesota-families
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