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|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2015
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Jessica Anderson (651) 230-2486
Proposal would mark first increase for Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program in more than a decade, additional investment needed to help more families
St. Paul, Minn. – Governor Mark Dayton’s budget proposal submitted today contains many recommendations to help improve the lives of children and families, including investments to enhance child protection efforts and improve access to early childhood education, like Head Start. Dayton's proposal also shows commitment to making child care more affordable and accessible to more Minnesota families by recommending a funding increase for the Child Care Assistance Program and expansion of the child and dependent care tax credit.
Dayton’s proposal includes $12.5 million per biennium for the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program. If passed by the legislature, it would be the first funding increase for the program in more than a decade. However, lawmakers would need to further increase the state’s commitment to the program in order to reach all eligible families, including the approximately 6,000 families waiting for assistance. Dayton also recommends $100 million per biennium for an expansion of the child care tax credit.
“We are happy that Governor Dayton is committed to addressing our state’s child care challenges,” said Peggy Flanagan, Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota. “Child care is a two-generation approach to broader economic security because it allows parents to go to work and provide for their families and children to succeed in a safe, nurturing environment. It supports the growth of a strong workforce, too, which is essential to the future prosperity of our state. But child care needs to be affordable and accessible, and right now for many families, it isn’t.”
“Expanding the child care tax credit would help many families to afford the cost of child care, and we're thankful that Governor Dayton's proposal is a step toward reducing the wait list for the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program. Right now the wait list is so long that it isn’t unusual for a family to wait months or even years before receiving assistance. Some families don’t even bother to get on their county’s wait list because they don’t believe they’ll ever receive help. These are parents who want to work and provide for their families. Lawmakers should build on Governor Dayton's proposal and further increase our state’s commitment to the program in order to help those families struggling most to make ends meet.”
Flanagan noted that lawmakers should also increase the state’s reimbursement rate to providers accepting CCAP families in order to ensure provider availability. The reimbursement payment to providers has eroded over the past decade. Two-thirds of provider rates in Minnesota are not covered in full by the state reimbursement, forcing many providers to take CCAP families at a financial loss, if they choose to accept them at all.
Additionally, Dayton recommends $1.5 million per biennium to simplify the Child Care Assistance Program and make it easier for families to use, and $3.5 million per biennium to fund the Parent Aware Quality Rating System and ensure supply of Parent Aware-rated providers to families using CCAP.
Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota is a member of Kids Can’t Wait, a coalition organized around creating affordable, accessible child care opportunities for all Minnesotans, including through increasing investment in the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program, increasing CCAP provider reimbursement rates, and improving the child and dependent care tax credit. Other members include the Minnesota Budget Project, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, the University of Minnesota – Center on Women and Public Policy, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Hmong American Partnership, ISAIAH, Legal Services Advocacy Project, Minnesota Alliance of YMCAs, Minnesota Coalition for Women’s Economic Security, Project for Pride in Living, and YWCA of Minneapolis.
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.