Proposed Cuts: Fewer MN Child Care Options, More Job Loss?
ST. PAUL, Minn. - During Voices for Children Advocacy Day today at the state Capitol, legislators will be asked to stop cuts to child care funding. Gov. Pawlenty's supplemental budget includes another five-percent cut - $12 million - from early childhood programs to help make up a $1.2 billion state budget deficit. The state reimbursements to child care providers are used to make day-care services affordable for low-income working families.
James Carlson, director of public policy for Child Care Works, says the additional cut will deplete an already struggling program. He says a cut was expected, but not this deep, and he warns it will be a double blow to the state's economy because some care providers will be forced to close their doors.
"Their employees will be looking for work. Furthermore, the parents using these programs will have to struggle with where to find quality care. Many parents will now choose to leave their employment and just take care of their kid by themselves. It's what we call a 'double whammy.'"
If the cuts are approved, Minnesota stands to lose federal matching dollars, as well, Carlson adds points out. In the last few years, more than 2,200 child care providers have closed their doors, he says.
"It is clear that if this great cut goes through, a significant amount of providers would choose to close. That's what happened in 2003; it's bound to happen now - it's already happening."
Carlson says only 32 percent of child care centers are accessible to families in the program right now. With additional cuts, he predicts that number will fall below 30 percent, meaning very few top-quality centers will be available.