Investing in affordable child care so Minnesota families can find the care they need


The Minnesota Budget Project has long sought public investments in making child care affordable to more families. To ensure the best future for children and families, we support policy changes so that all Minnesotans have affordable child care so parents can work or go to school, children get off to a strong start, and employers can attract and retain the workers they need.

We support the Great Start framework to achieve the following goals:

    • affordable and accessible child care and early learning for families;
    • high-quality child care and early learning for all children, regardless of race, income, or zip code; and
    • child care and early learning system that equitably compensates and supports a diverse early childhood educator workforce.

Policy priority for 2024: Great Start Affordability Scholarships

Great Start Affordability Scholarships are a new policy solution designed to lower monthly child care costs for families across Minnesota. Here’s how they could work:

  • Families could qualify if they have children under 5 who are not participating in Child Care Assistance or Early Learning Scholarships. Children receiving scholarships would receive them for a 12-month period.
  • Great Start Scholarships would reach a wide income range of families.

  • The amount of Great Start Scholarships would be determined on a sliding scale based on family income, providing more support to families with more modest incomes.

  • Great Start Scholarship payments would go directly to a family’s child care provider, reducing the amount of the family’s monthly child care bill. These payments would be paid prospectively to ensure providers have the upfront resources to care for the children.

  • Great Start Affordability Scholarships would use public infrastructure already in place to make it easier for families to apply.

What's at stake?

Affordable, dependable child care helps children thrive, parents work or go to school, and employers fill essential job openings. The strength of the state’s economy depends on greater participation of Minnesotans in the labor force. Minnesota can’t afford to leave working parents on the sidelines because they lack access to affordable child care.

Public policy solutions should address the fundamental problem that Minnesota families struggle to afford child care while, at the same time, those working to provide this essential care and early education are paid notoriously low wages.

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Read more on this topic...

Our Great Start Scholarships issue brief looks at this new policy solution designed to lower monthly child care costs for families across Minnesota and how they could work.

Great Start MN is a group of organizations working together to help Minnesota implement the Great Start framework and recommendations to transform Minnesota’s child care and early learning system so that every child gets off to a great start.

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