Every child needs a loving and enriching environment during crucial early years. Every family deserves access to quality and affordable child care. And every child care provider and early educator deserves a living wage. 

Yet for too long, some politicians have chosen to shield the wealthy and large corporations from paying their fair share in taxes rather than funding the early childhood care and education system we need. This means too many children are left without those crucial early opportunities, too many families struggle to find child care, and too many child care workers live in poverty even while working full time. 

The budget passed by the Minnesota Legislature takes some positive steps forward. ISAIAH’s coalition of child care providers, Kids Count On Us, helped push for three things this session: 

  • an immediate increase to the child care assistance program reimbursement rates, 
  • establishing a new Department of Early Childhood, and 
  • a pathway to universal access & affordability with living wages

Representative Liz Boldon and House Early Childhood Finance Chair Rep. Dave Pinto led the fight for these priorities. Here’s what Minnesota’s children, families and care providers won:

  • Child care assistance program reimbursement rates will increase from the current 25th percentile of market rates, to 40th for infants and toddlers and 30th for other children. This was made possible entirely because of Federal funds in the American Rescue Plan Act. While this is a good step forward, Minnesota will continue to lag behind most other states in paying child care providers. 
  • The Children’s Cabinet is charged with issuing a report on the concept of restructuring state government to create a new Department of Early Childhood to better serve children, families and providers.
  • Rep. Boldon’s universal child care bill resulted in the creation of the Great Start Task Force, which will include representation from Kids Count On Us. The Task Force is charged with charting a course towards universal child care access and affordability with living wages for child care providers.

Reactions from members of Kids Count On Us showed the mixed emotions towards the budget deal:

“We’re grateful there’s a small step forward in increasing child care reimbursement rates, thanks to President Biden and Congress. But we are deeply disappointed that the Minnesota Senate majority chose to block higher taxes on millionaires rather than truly fund our children’s needs now.” — Mary Solheim, Playschool Child Care Inc., Maplewood

“We are glad that the state is moving forward with the Great Start Task Force to figure out what it will take to build a truly accessible, affordable and sustainable child care system. We need an overhaul that recognizes how important early care and learning are, including a new state department of early childhood that will make it a priority.” –Dr. Debra Messenger, All Ages and Faces Academy, St. Paul

ISAIAH hosts the Kids Count On Us coalition of 512 child care providers across Minnesota.