Childcare providers and parents share stories of damage done by childcare cuts, bad legislation

ST. PAUL – March 25, 2019 – Today, 300 Minnesotans, including over 100 four-year-olds, their childcare providers and their parents with Kids Count on Us gathered in the state Capitol for Child Care Day at the Capitol. This was more than just a field trip for little munchkins to see a big building where laws are made. Instead, this was a direct opportunity for lawmakers to see the small faces representing thousands of Minnesota families and childcare centers who need full funding of childcare assistance. The children, like the families of Minnesota, are Black, White, Asian, Indigenous and Brown. The children look different from one another, pray differently, and even speak different languages – but they are all deserving of quality, affordable childcare.

See photo album from event.

The Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) is for lower income Minnesotan families to be able to afford to put their children in quality, affordable care while they work and go to school. However, this fund has been raided several times over by a few legislators who choose to cut the check for kickbacks to the wealthy as opposed to funding early education so that all Minnesotan families can thrive. In recent months, distractions about mismanagement of funds by a few people has overshadowed the real moral scandal of the collective fund being drained by our elected officials, creating one of the largest childcare deserts in the country. What’s worse, scapegoating and Islamophobic tactics have been used to further the myth of who’s to blame for the child care crisis.

Today’s event centered the voices of those most impacted by this crisis – Minnesotan families and kids needing care as well as the childcare providers who are already underfunded and now targeted for less funding.

“I wouldn’t have been able to finish my bachelor’s degree without receiving childcare assistance. My degree made it possible to find a job that can financially support myself and children,” said Kiarra Zackery, single mother of two and educator for Robbinsdale Schools.  “I wouldn’t be where I am today without childcare being made affordable to me. I built a deep relationship with my child care center and during the summer I work part time as a sub. Being able to work in the center my daughter attends is both beneficial for the center and for my family.”

A few legislators are now looking to cut the resources and labor of childcare workers even deeper. They are proposing a bill to make it impossible for those already making small incomes as childcare workers to benefit from the Childcare Assistance Program themselves.

“In order to deliver high quality early learning, the adult must be well trained, kind and patient in order to support the whole child – their social, emotional and cognitive development.  In our environment, we also pay special attention the spirit of our children, our culture respects the sacredness of every child – the wakanheja!” said Janice LaFloe, Founder of the Montessori American Indian Child Center in east St Paul.  “Early learning professionals offer the most significant transition for a child – a transition from home to their first elementary environment, we deserve the respect we offer the children.  As an early learning professional, I now earn the least amount of money I’ve ever made.”

While the many children that attended today’s rally and visited their legislators’ offices were cute, the crisis their families and childcare providers face is not. Any genuine notion of enforcing program integrity for the thousands of families across the state in need childcare must first address the growing hole that’s been created by refusing to fund these children’s futures in the first place. Funding CCAP is one of the most efficient ways to address both the astronomical costs of care for families and closing the record breaking and expanding racial equity gap in education that Minnesota has.

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.

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

See Photo Album Here: