Governor Walz, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan Hear from Minnesotans on Need to Expand Access to Affordable Child Care

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today hosted a virtual roundtable discussion to hear from Minnesotans across the state about the need to expand access to quality, affordable child care. Roundtable attendees included: Ann McCully, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of Minnesota; Jeff Ettinger, Co-Chair of the Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion; Rasheena Bickman, Catholic Charities teacher and parent; Shakira Bradshaw, Co-Chair of Great Start for All Minnesota Children and parent; Annette Sallman, Director of Community Education at Stillwater Area Public Schools; and Keith Kozerski, Senior Director, Child & Family Services at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“Today, we heard from Minnesotans who made it clear: Affordable, quality child care is critical to the wellbeing and economic security of all Minnesota families,” said Governor Walz. “We must find solutions that lower child care costs for families while supporting the workforce that takes care of our kids – and Minnesota can lead the way. With Minnesota’s historic budget surplus, we have an opportunity to get this done.”

“We must ensure our children, early childhood educators, guardians, and parents have the tools necessary to succeed – and for many Minnesota families, that means quality, affordable child care,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “Access to affordable child care is a proven two-generation strategy that lifts families up so parents and children can thrive. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked to increase and improve resources for Minnesotans in need of child care. Now, we have a historic opportunity to expand child care access and increase affordability for all Minnesotans.”

“Child care is the backbone of our economy and a critical sector that provides education and care to our youngest Minnesotans. While our Administration has prioritized supporting child care providers and is in a stronger position than other states as a result, child care remains under resourced and must be a top priority for federal and state policymakers. Our success has depended on close relationships and listening to providers and families, as well as coordination across agencies much like the roundtable today,” said Erin Bailey, Executive Director of Minnesota Children’s Cabinet.

“Our Council identified the maintenance and growth of nurturing child care options as a key theme for Minnesota’s economic growth,” said Jeff Ettinger, Co-Chair of the Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion. “Child care is also foundational to another of the Council’s priorities: workforce development. Lack of affordable child care is a barrier to seeking work.”

“Our child care system is broken—it was broken before the pandemic, and it has only become more fragile as a result of it. It does not work for early educators who are doing the important work of caring for our youngest children—often without a living wage. It does not work for families who are trying to access affordable child care. It does not work for employers who face challenges recruiting and retaining workers. And, most importantly, it does not work for children. We need to expand and increase the investments in child care made during the pandemic to ensure that we have a system that works for everyone,” said Ann McCully, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of Minnesota.

“I experience first-hand the critical role affordable and accessible childcare plays for our families,” said Rasheena Bickham, Program Manager and parent at Northside Childcare Development Center. “Without ready access to affordable childcare, our neighbors and the families we serve could not go to work, which can perpetuate poverty, frequently moving homes, and homelessness. Affordable and accessible childcare is also critical for the children in our care. They are provided a stable, constant source of support every single day. What we are doing is the fastest, most direct, and most affordable way to build wealth in families, close the achievement gap, and provide critical resources to children and families.”

DFL members of the state House and Senate also shared their support for expanding access to quality, affordable child care in Minnesota.

“We have an opportunity in this economy to make sure children and parents have access to high quality, affordable child care and providers receive the compensation they deserve for doing this important work,” said Senator Melissa Halvorson Wiklund, DFL-Bloomington. “Now is the time for us to invest and make this a reality for every Minnesotan.”

“Investments in the earliest years have the biggest payoff for both families and society,” said Rep. Dave Pinto, DFL-St. Paul, chair of the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. “With the state’s record-breaking budget surplus, we have a historic opportunity to lower the cost of childcare and expand access to early learning so that parents can work, employers can expand, and children and communities can thrive, now and long into the future.”

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