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Study: Child Care Could Boost MN Economy

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 By Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN, Contact
December 15, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Good child care is critical for the American economy. That's among the conclusions of a recent study by Cornell University, which shows that investing in child care provides a good short-term boost, by pumping up direct employment and by supporting parents who are in the work force.

However, in light of the Minnesota budget deficit, a program that helps make sure the state's children are in good hands could face the axe again. Right now, only 38 percent of Minnesota child care centers can accommodate those families that get financial help from the state.

James Carlson, director of public policy for the organization Child Care Works, says those kids that need the most help are getting shortchanged on high-quality care, and the assistance program can't afford any more cuts.

"The net effect is that the kids that need the best care, the ones that need the better programs, are the kids that are going to get the least amount of services."

Carlson says continual cuts in the program will have a ripple effect on Minnesota's economy. He says a person making around $30,000 a year only receives about $200 a week in child care financial assistance.

"Now you have to decide, should I stay working or do I quit my job to take care of my children and go on welfare? That's really the choices right now, because the subsidy is not enough."

The $1.2 billion Minnesota deficit will force legislators to make budget decisions and potentially more cuts. Carlson says he'd like at least to see current levels of funding maintained for the Child Care Assistance program.

The Cornell University study on child care and the national economy is available online at
government.cce.cornell.edu

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