Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH, Kids Count on Us Respond to OLA Report on Childcare in Minnesota

ST. PAUL – March 13, 2019 – The Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH and childcare providers and parents from Kids Count On Us gathered at the Capitol in moral outrage. They called for an apology and action from legislators in response to the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) report that was released regarding childcare in Minnesota. The report served as an additional factor of vindication as it concluded that the baseless allegations of $100 million of childcare funds being used to fund terrorism in Somalia was false.

“The Republican legislators who perpetuated this rumor irresponsibly fed islamophobia and hatred that leaves my community vulnerable to harassment and attacks every day,” said Imam Mohamed Omar, clergy and executive director of Dar Al Farooq, a Bloomington mosque that was recently bombed by a hateful act of domestic terror. “We [the East African community] were not the only people harmed by this lie. More than 2,100 families are sitting on the childcare assistance program waitlist, waiting to get desperately needed support so they can access childcare and provide for their families.”

The allegations were initiated by a  Fox 9 news story that was immediately discredited and partially retracted. Regardless of this, a few Republican legislators perpetuated the story and, in bad faith, created a reckless distraction for nearly a year.

“Their actions stoked hatred and fear against the Somali Muslim community throughout the last ten months. Islamophobia is real, and it puts our community in danger,” said Imam Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society and a leader with the Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH. “I have personally received more than 12 death threats in the last year. The fact that elected leaders who are responsible to represent every Minnesotan advanced baseless attacks on our community is outrageous.”

“Our center is open seven days a week, myself and other providers are working around the clock to provide for our kids and to make sure our center is run smoothly. All across MN providers are working tirelessly to provide quality care to children,” said Nasro Abshir, owner and director of Family First childcare center in Minneapolis and leader with Kids Count On Us. “We are actively trying to solve the childcare crisis and instead of increasing funding and creating legislation to help providers we are being targeted by the media and some politicians who have been pushing racist and discriminatory policies. Funding early childhood education is vital to helping already disadvantaged children succeed.”

Any conversation by legislators about strengthening the integrity of the Child Care Assistance Program in light of the OLA report today should start with an apology from elected leaders who propagated the baseless allegations against the Somali community.

As conversations continue about what can be done to address the report’s findings about mismanagement of a small percentage of existing CCAP funds, ISAIAH supports proactive solutions to strengthen the program. ISAIAH wants to make sure that all childcare funds are managed properly especially since CCAP funds are so precious and scarce with a few Republican legislators refusing to adequately fund the program for years.

Addressing the fact that thousands of families who are entitled to childcare assistance don’t have access to it and fully funding the program alleviates Minnesota’s growing childcare crisis.

“I hope the dangerous political games are over, and that our elected leaders focus on the real issue—ensuring that the childcare assistance program is fully funded so that every child in Minnesota has an opportunity for a bright start,” said Omar.

About Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH
The Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH represents over 20 Islamic mosques in Minnesota who are dedicated to racial and economic justice in the state through deep partnership and collaboration with ISAIAH. ISAIAH is a multi-faith, multi-racial, state-wide and nonpartisan faith-based community organizing coalition in Minnesota.

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.