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Effective Now: Progress for Preschoolers and Providers

About 2,000 families are on a waiting list to get into Minnesota's Child Care Assistance Program. (Shanna Trim/Flickr)
About 2,000 families are on a waiting list to get into Minnesota's Child Care Assistance Program. (Shanna Trim/Flickr)
October 23, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota's low-income families get more help paying for child care starting Monday.

New provisions in the Child Care Assistance program say families can enroll for a year instead of six months at a time and that parents can go to school and still qualify for child care assistance.

Anne Krisnik, executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC), says the new law will be good for providers, employers and, most of all, families.

"The JRLC representing Minnesota's faith community across the state sees families that are really struggling and sees the importance of child care as a way to create stability," she states.

JRLC is part of the Kids Can't Wait Coalition, along with other groups that include the Children's Defense Fund- Minnesota and Minnesota's YMCAs.

The Coalition advocates a two-generation approach to getting families out of poverty. It says affordable, high-quality child care helps children get ready for school and helps their parents move up in the workforce.

Karen DeVos runs a child care center in Ada, in the northwestern part of the state. She says the new law will be especially beneficial in greater Minnesota where many parents work seasonal or part-time jobs.

"It's really important,” she stresses. “Those children are going to be able to be here every single day, getting the same education as all of our other families, just like our private pay families, and just being able to have that consistency on a daily basis."

About 30,000 Minnesota children will be affected by the changes. But 2,000 families are on a waiting list to get into the child care assistance program.

DeVos says providers have to worry about a steady income just like families do.

"We want our providers to have stability in their income as well,” she states. “If we have an opening, we're much likely to go with the family who we know is going to be consistent, 8-to-5 Monday through Friday, rather than a fluctuating schedule. It just makes business sense."

DeVos and advocates such as the Kids Can't Wait Coalition say there's more to do. They hope the Legislature will raise outdated reimbursement rates and expand the program to better serve families experiencing homelessness.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN