Making Affordable Child Care Available to More Minnesota Families

The Minnesota Budget Project supports policies to ensure that more Minnesota families have affordable, reliable child care that meets their needs and supports their pathways to economic security. We support: 

  • Increased funding for Basic Sliding Fee child care assistance to serve more families;
  • Improvements to make child care assistance work better for families, including those facing transitions; and 
  • Increased reimbursements to child care providers who participate in the child care assistance program to ensure families have choices when selecting providers. 

Get involved

Minnesota policymakers are making important decisions about child care assistance. Add your voice by contacting your legislators and asking them to support children and families in every Minnesota county by increasing funding for the Child Care Assistance Program.

What's at stake

When families have affordable child care, parents can succeed in the workplace; kids can develop, play, and thrive in safe and stable environments; and employers can find and retain the workers they need. 

Too many parents cannot find stable child care that meets their family’s needs. In Minnesota, the average cost of enrolling an infant in a child care center is $310 per week – that’s $16,120 per year. 

Families of color and families living in certain regions of the state feel the pressure most. Not only is care expensive, but finding care that reflects cultural values or languages can be exceptionally challenging. Minnesota has over 222,000 child care spaces, but over 300,000 kids under age 6 who might need a child care spot. 

Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance covers children up to age 12. It is available in every county for the number of hours and times of day parents need it so they can work. It allows parents the freedom to choose a provider that works for them. 

Minnesota’s investment in child care assistance hasn’t kept up with the needs of Minnesota families. Since FY 2003, state funding for child care assistance has dropped by 37 percent after adjusting for inflation. That means that many eligible Minnesota families are unable to get the help they need, and about 2,000 Minnesota families are on waiting lists. 

Even when parents are able to participate in Basic Sliding Fee, they may face an additional barrier: limited options. The state’s reimbursements payments to providers accepting Child Care Assistance are out of date and far below what many providers charge. This means that providers might lose money when they serve families using Basic Sliding Fee, and therefore may choose not to do so. Increasing reimbursement rates would increase parental choices.

Status

Governor Tim Walz’s budget proposal for FY 2020-21 includes large investments in affordable childcare. Under this proposal:

  • 1,000 additional Minnesota families would be able to participate in child care assistance, which would cut the statewide waiting list in half. 
  • Child care provider rates would better reflect market rates by automatically updating to the 2018 market-rate survey. Child care assistance would adopt family-friendly technical changes to make the program work better for families in transition and those experiencing homelessness. These updates would also bring Minnesota into compliance with federal requirements.
  • The state would make grants to child care providers to support their business development, including expansion, retention, and facility improvements.

The Legislature is also hearing many bills related to our child care assistance goals. The following list highlights a sample:

  • House File 1 (Kotyza-Witthuhn) / Senate File 820 (Wiklund). This bill includes funding for Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance to serve all eligible families, and increases eligibility requirements for families with incomes at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty guideline ($142,140 for a family of four). The bill also increases provider reimbursements and includes other provisions related to young Minnesotans.
  • Senate File 1111 (Weber) / House File 1238 (Pryor). This bill includes family-friendly updates to child care assistance provisions that will bring Minnesota into compliance with federal requirements.
  • Senate File 625 (Marty) / House File 1703 (Richardson). This bill would remove caps on funding child care assistance so that all eligible families could be served, making it a forecasted program starting with the November 2019 forecast. It would also update provider rates to the 75th percentile based on the most recent market-rate survey.

Want to learn more?

Staff contact: Betsy Hammer, Policy Advocate, 651-757-3065

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