Updating child care assistance reimbursement rates important for parents

Ben Horowitz
May 19, 2016

Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) reimburses child care providers so that parents with low wages can leave for work knowing that their children will be cared for in a stable, nurturing environment. But CCAP reimbursement rates are set far below market value, creating another barrier for hard-working parents.

Through CCAP, which includes Basic Sliding Fee, Minnesota’s counties pay child care providers who serve children while their parents are at work or looking for a job. A family of four is eligible for Basic Sliding Fee if they earn $43,000 or less; unfortunately, the resource currently has a waiting list that is 7,300 families long.

Even when parents are able to benefit from Basic Sliding Fee, they are confronted by another problem. The state sets the maximum rate counties can pay child care providers who serve families through CCAP. For years, those rates have been set well below what a typical provider charges for their services. Currently, the reimbursement rates cover less than a third of the options available to parents. Parents may not be able to find a provider willing to accept their child for such low rates.

The Senate and Governor Mark Dayton have taken steps towards addressing the provider rate problem by proposing increases to CCAP payments. In addition to shrinking the Basic Sliding Fee waiting list, policymakers should make sure that CCAP rates give this important work its due.

-Ben Horowitz