Kids Can’t Wait Day of Action for affordable child care

Laura Mortenson
Mar 24, 2015

All Minnesota families should be able to afford child care that meets their needs. Affordable child care allows parents to work, provides children with long-lasting benefits from consistent and dependable care, and ensures businesses can find and keep the employees they need.

But for too many, it remains out of reach. Annual child care rates in Minnesota for an infant in a center now average $13,993, eating up a significant amount of many families’ budgets.
Graph Minnesota child care costs are unaffordable

The Minnesota Budget Project joined other members of the Kids Can’t Wait Coalition at a Day of Action at the Capitol to highlight policy proposals to make child care more affordable for Minnesota families. The improved state budget landscape offers an opportunity to move more families into greater economic security, and legislators from both parties are working to do so.

The Kids Can’t Wait Coalition supports several bipartisan provisions that would:

  • Increase 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;
  • Increase the reimbursement rates for child care providers participating in the Child Care Assistance Program so that more families can find affordable care; and
  • Make 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.

At a press conference and in a committee hearing, parents shared their stories about how affordable child care is difficult to find, making it hard for them to keep jobs and know their children are in safe, dependable care settings.

Elizabeth Mitchell is a single mother of a 4-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. She works full time and spends nearly half of her income on child care. She has had to quit jobs in the past that didn’t pay enough for her to afford child care. Elizabeth qualifies for Basic Sliding Fee assistance but is on the waiting list.

“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.”

The authors of the Kids Can’t Wait Coalition’s legislation — Sens. Jeff Hayden and Chris Eaton, and Reps. Mary Franson and Jenifer Loon — all spoke about Minnesota families’ need for affordable, dependable child care.

If legislation is passed that makes safe, reliable child care more affordable, more Minnesota parents like Elizabeth will be able to believe that everything is going to be okay.

-Laura Mortenson