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Child Care Providers Hopeful Budget Deal Holds Up

July 15, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. – It appears Minnesota's state government shutdown is coming to an end. Among the organizations hoping that will happen soon is the Minnesota Childcare Resource and Referral Network, where Executive Director Ann McCully says a number of providers have had to close in the past couple of weeks because child care assistance was not being funded.

"Unfortunately, this industry has been through, nothing quite like the shutdown before, but certainly other types of cuts. We are now at the point where less than half of what they truly charge is getting covered by child care assistance, on average."

While the judge overseeing funding in the shutdown this week ordered that the assistance be restored, McCully says the Minnesota Childcare Resource and Referral Network office remains closed.

"About 500 families a week typically would turn to our system to say, 'I'm just starting out in this world of childcare, what in the world do I do? How do I ask? What do I look for? Who's even available in my community?' That's normally a service that we would provide – that we cannot provide right now."

The organization has been unable to offer education or training during the shutdown, she adds.

"We have about 250 classes that were scheduled in July for child care providers on things like car seat safety, SIDS, CPR, those basic licensing requirements, as well as child development, brain development – all kinds of things that help you be a better and stronger child care provider."

McCully says the impact on child care during the shutdown has been felt, not just in the Twin Cities, but statewide.

"Sometimes I think there's this assumption that this is just a Metro problem, and it really isn't. There are families everywhere who are low-income who are accessing this program."

On Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican Party agreed to a budget framework after several hours of negotiations at the State Capitol. A special session will be held in the coming days for approval.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN