Childcare Center Providers, Teachers, Parents Gather to Discuss the Real Problem that Some Politicians Won’t

At the close of legislative session Kids Count on Us, ISAIAH and the Minnesota Minority Childcare Association held a press conference to address the real Minnesota childcare crisis that has plagued childcare centers, parents and children, including the many Somali-based childcare centers in the state. Childcare center providers, teachers, and parents tackled this issue, the ways in which they’ve been recently targeted and the discriminatory ways in which it has been racialized, hurting all Minnesotan families.  

Watch the Entire Press Conference here:

“Our center is a half a block from subsided housing but no family from that apartment building can come to my center because people can’t get off the waitlist. This is unacceptable,” said Lynn Hoskins, Director of Community Child Care Center in Richfield.  “We should be embarrassed that 5,000 families are on the waiting list for child care.  It’s time that Minnesota stepped up and fully funded the child care program.”

Minnesotans value pitching in together to ensure all of our children and their parents are thriving, regardless of their race, nationality or religion. Some politicians have tried to shift the conversation away from the fact that thousands of families have been put on waiting lists to access affordable childcare for over a decade. This has largely been a consequence of repeated childcare cuts under the previous administration that have continued to benefit the greedy few who don’t want to practice shared abundance like the rest of us.

“As a young mom, I was a student and worked full time. I was put on the waitlist for child care assistance.  This made our family dynamic very unstable with multiple shift changes and dependence on family to help out. I even had to bring my daughter to an exam because I didn’t have access to childcare,” said Kiarra Zachery, a parent and equity specialist for Robbinsdale area schools.  “When I think about the struggles I went through, and thousands of other moms go through to find access, this is the real crisis.  Tim Pawlenty cut CCAP in 2003 and we have never recovered.  We need elected officials to address the real stories and real issues facing Minnesotans.”

Now that previously investigated and concluded cases of fraud were unearthed and irresponsibly connected to unrelated issues facing the Somali community – those who’ve been at fault for short changing Minnesotan families all along are taking the opportunistic moment to shift responsibility from themselves as elected leaders. Some politicians have fanned the flames to scapegoat people and programs that make our communities stronger. They want to make it harder for us to work together to solve the challenges facing our families. Their goal has always been to cut and destroy programs that our families rely on so that they can shift those resources to those who need it the least.

Nura Awil, a parent and manager for Cedar Child Care Center in Minneapolis, has a 13-year-old son who has been targeted by ridicule from other students as a result of the inflammatory reporting. “Kids are probing him about the news to the point that he’s felt shame and discomfort. This makes me so angry.  By grouping all Somalis together our kids feel shame, when the shame should fall on those that stirred this false reporting,” declared Awil.

“False reporting has spread hate and division. This divisiveness goes against Minnesota values and it should not be tolerated,” said Nasro Abshir Director and Owner of Family First Childcare Center. “We’ve been welcomed, encouraged and supported here in this state and we are here to say as Minnesotans. We won’t stand for slander, bullying and intimidation.”

We should not forget who is and has been hurt in all this: families in need of relief, who need peace of mind and affordable childcare AND the childcare centers’ providers and teachers who are in this profession because of their love for our children and their care for kids’ futures. It’s time to fully fund the Childcare Assistance Program we know as CCAP. Everyone doing their part to pitch in has always been the answer. It will take courageous everyday Minnesotans to rise above the divisiveness and fear-mongering to do just that.

ISAIAH is a multi-faith, multi-racial, state-wide and nonpartisan faith-based community organizing coalition in Minnesota. Our 200 member and partner congregations create racial and economically equitable communities through intentional, intensive leadership development; collective, faith-based actions; and deep partnerships with grassroots organizations and public servants.

Kids Count on Us
Kids Count on Us is an initiative of ISAIAH and a coalition of over 75 childcare centers with hundreds of providers and parents statewide dedicated to fighting for full funding of Minnesota’s future through early childhood education.