Making Affordable Child Care Available to More Minnesota Families

Issue Overview

The Minnesota Budget Project supports policies to ensure that more Minnesota families have affordable, reliable child care that meets their needs. These policies include: 

  • Improvements that make Child Care Assistance work better for families and child care providers.
  • Increasing funding for Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance. 
  • Increasing reimbursement rates to child care providers participating in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which includes Basic Sliding Fee.

Too many parents cannot find stable child care that meets their family's needs. In Minnesota, the average annual cost of enrolling an infant in a child care center is $14,826. When child care is inaccessible and unaffordable, parents struggle to find and keep good jobs while their children may suffer long-lasting consequences from a lack of consistent and dependable care.

Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance supports the varied needs of Minnesota children and their parents by reducing the cost of child care for working families. It covers children from infancy until they turn 13, is available in every county, and allows parents the freedom to choose a provider. When parents have stable care, employers have an easier time finding the reliable workers their businesses need. There is growing recognition of how the lack of affordable child care is a damper on economic growth in many parts of the state. 

A 25 percent inflation-adjusted decrease in spending since FY 2003 means that many eligible Minnesota families are unable to participate in Basic Sliding Fee. About 4,000 fewer families are able to find affordable care today through Basic Sliding Fee than in FY 2003. More than 2,300 Minnesota families are on waiting lists. 

When parents participate in Basic Sliding Fee, they may face an additional barrier: limited options. The state's payments to providers accepting Child Care Assistance are out of date and are often set far below what the median provider charges. This means providers may lose money if they choose to serve families using Basic Sliding Fee. Increasing reimbursement rates would increase parental choice.

Status

Child Care Assistance: The Legislature is currently considering important family-friendly changes to the Child Care Assistance Program that will make the program work better for families. Senate File 2930 (Senator Tony Lourey) and House File 3205 (Representative Roz Peterson) would expedite the application process for homeless families; allow continuous access to child care assistance for families that move into a county with a waiting list; make it easier for families transitioning off of Minnesota’s welfare-to-work program to retain access to child care; and increase provider reimbursement rates.

These proposals are moving forward in both the House and Senate Supplemental Finance Omnibus bills (Senate File 3656/House File 3138). Both of these bills leverage new federal funding for child care assistance worth approximately $60 million over three years. However, additional state investment is still necessary to fully meet the child care needs of Minnesota families.

Get Involved

The Minnesota Budget Project is part of the Kids Can't Wait Coalition, which is committed to affordable, accessible child care for all Minnesota families. You can read more about the coalition and sign on as a supporter

More Information

Staff contact: Sarah Orange, Minnesota Budget Project Policy Advocate, 651-757-3065

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