Child Care

Child care is a two-generation approach to family economic security. Working parents need reliable child care in order to work and provide for their families, and when families have sufficient financial resources and children have access to stable, nurturing care, they flourish from kindergarten to career. Child care strengthens our current workforce and the workforce of tomorrow, and in turn secures the future prosperity of our state. But child care is unaffordable for too many families. For a family of three making around $35,000/year in Minnesota, the average cost of infant care at a family provider would consume about 20 percent of their income, or at a center, about 40 percent of their income. When child care isn’t affordable, families may experience economic hardship and parents may piece together a patchwork of care arrangements, or resort to using lower-quality or unsafe care environments.

Minnesota helps low- and moderate-income families afford child care through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and the Minnesota Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Inadequate CCAP funding, eroding child care provider reimbursement rates, and a limited tax credit means too many families still can’t access the child care they need.

Families and children deserve access to affordable child care that meets their needs. Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota supports strengthening the Child Care Assistance Program and the Minnesota Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. We are proud to work in partnership with the Kids Can’t Wait coalition to advocate for these programs and policies at the state capitol.

Visit our Capitol Watch page.

Child Care Assistance Program

Ensuring all eligible families have access to affordable child care that meets their needs through the Child Care Assistance Program

Minnesota provides subsidies through the Child Care Assistance Program to low-income, working families with children birth to 13. However, funding for the Basic Sliding Fee component of the Child Care Assistance Program has decreased by 28 percent (adjusted for inflation) over the past decade, leaving thousands of families on the program wait list. Child care provider reimbursement rates have eroded, too. Only a third of provider rates statewide are covered in full by CCAP reimbursements, forcing many providers to absorb the difference or pass it on to families.

In 2015, for the first time in more than ten years, the state legislature appropriated additional funding for Basic Sliding Fee, providing $10 million (FY 16-17) to reduce the wait list, an investment estimated to fund 350 program slots. In 2017, as part of our work with the Kids Can't Wait coalition, we supported legislation to implement the family-friendly changes required under the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant, along with additional funding to serve more families and raise the provider reimbursement rate. Lawmakers passed a portion of the family-friendly changes in allowing most families to stay enrolled in CCAP for 12 months at a time instead of six, even in the case of minor changes in parent schedule or income. 

Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota supports strengthening the Child Assistance Program, including by fully funding Basic Sliding Fee so that every eligible family can access it, increasing provider reimbursement rates so that families can afford child care that meets their needs, and implementing family-friendly policies to improve the child care experience for children and their parents.

Learn more about the Child Care Assistance Program.

Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit

Minnesota provides a refundable Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit that helps offset the high cost of child care for some low- and moderate-income families.

However, the size of the credit doesn’t reflect rising child care costs and the scope of its reach is limited. During the 2017 special legislative session, lawmakers passed an increased and expanded Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to help more low- and mid-income families afford the high cost of care. Families with one dependent will now be able to access a new maximum credit of $1,050 (up from $720) and the maximum adjusted gross income to qualify for the credit will be $62,000 (up from $39,400). Families with two or more dependents will be able to access a new maximum credit of $2,100 (up from $1,440) and the maximum adjusted gross income to qualify for the credit will be $74,000 (up from $39,400).

Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota supports improving the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, including by increasing the size of the credit and expanding eligibility to reach more low- and moderate-income families so they can afford safe, consistent, high-quality child care that meets their needs.

Learn more about the Child Care Assistance Program.

Data & Publications

CDF publications relevant to early childhood development and child care.

KIDS COUNT

Child Care: A Two-Generation Approach to Family Economic Security

Child Care: A Two-Generation Approach to Family Economic Security

May 9, 2017

Other publications relevant to early childhood development and child care.