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Minnesota Parents Want Child Care Funding Restored

With a state budget surplus, some Minnesota parents want funding restored to the Child Care Assistance Program. (iStockphoto)
With a state budget surplus, some Minnesota parents want funding restored to the Child Care Assistance Program. (iStockphoto)
February 29, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Now that the state budget forecast is official, Minnesota lawmakers are looking at how to best use the $900 million surplus.

With the rising cost of child care in the state, some Minnesotans are asking lawmakers to restore funding to the Child Care Assistance Program, or CCAP.

St. Paul resident Jolene Mason says she unexpectedly had to take custody of three grandchildren under age five, and she relies on the program for help.

"I wouldn't be able to work, I wouldn't be able to go to school,” she relates. “My life would just be at a standstill because I'd be at home full-time, taking care of children. I wouldn't have a life without it, basically."

More than 6,000 low-income families have been on a waiting list for CCAP.

Child care advocacy groups, including the Children's Defense Fund Minnesota, are asking lawmakers to fully fund the program so all families can have access.

For some Minnesota parents, the average cost of child care can add up to about $14,000 a year.

Jessica Anderson, legislative affairs and communications director for Children's Defense Fund Minnesota, says another problem is that the program's reimbursement rates to child care providers have eroded in recent years.

"So, this means that we're asking providers to take families on CCAP at a financial loss,” she points out. “We're asking those low-income families to fill that gap.

“So, it really reduces the number of providers that families can access with such a low reimbursement rate."

Mason argues that access to child care not only helps working parents like herself, it also helps set children up for future success in school.

"Child care is not a luxury,” she states. “It's a no-brainer. People need child care to work. Children need child care to grow."

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN