Who are we?
Kids Count on Us is a coalition of community-based childcare providers, teachers, and families from across the state of Minnesota. We believe that all children have the right to high-quality and culturally relevant early care and education. That’s why we do community and political organizing towards a fully funded childcare system that centers the voices of childcare providers and families. Full funding includes living wages for teachers, resources for centers, and access to care for all families- no matter where they live or what’s in their wallets.
Together, we have the power to hold our policymakers accountable and demand access to an early childhood education system that works for all of us. You as the parents, teachers, and providers hold the power to change legislation to make equitable, accessible, and quality early childcare a reality for everyone.
We are a coalition of ISAIAH, a statewide multifaith and values based organization working towards a multiracial democracy and caring economy. Kids Count On Us started in 2017, and has grown to more than 500 community-based childcare centers across the state. Over the past four years we have worked to increase the reimbursement rates for childcare assistance, bring providers to the table, raise industry standards with the workforce, achieve more transparency from DHS on decision-making, and win more funding for all parts of the early childhood system.
Kids Count on Us has a vision of a childcare system that is fully funded. To our base, this means:
- No family pays more than 7% of their income for childcare.
- Childcare teachers and early childhood professionals make wages and benefits at least on par with K12 educators.
- All families have access to the kind of culturally relevant, affordable childcare they need, in a mixed delivery model system.
- Childcare providers, teachers, and families are centered in the decision making that happens about them at ALL levels of government.
During the 2022 legislative session, we championed bills to fund Child Care Assistance to make more families eligible, raise rates for providers, and eliminate waitlists, which Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan proposed in their budget. We also supported continuing childcare stabilization grants which have been invaluable in keeping providers afloat during the pandemic, also proposed by the Walz-Flanagan administration. While the House was in support of these spending priorities, the Senate chose not to use any of the $9.3 billion surplus to fund programs that benefit all Minnesotans. We have also been fighting for over 2 years to create a state-level Department of Early Education.
While there is still work to be done to move elected officials to vote to fund childcare, we had a major win with the passage of HF2900, which set aside money for Frontline Worker Pay. Many of our leaders worked very hard to make sure childcare workers were included in the definition of “frontline workers” and we were thrilled that the bill included nearly all frontline workers. Unfortunately, a provision in the law that required people be employees excluded sole proprietors which therefore excluded family childcare providers. We reached out to childcare workers across the state to ensure they were able to apply for their well earned Frontline Worker Pay.
Looking ahead, we are collecting stories and engaging with legislators and candidates to make sure they understand the importance of funding childcare in Minnesota. The pandemic laid bare the crisis in our childcare system. It also made clear the necessity to support the childcare workforce with living wages. Without them, there is no childcare system. We continue to advocate for an early childhood system in which families pay no more than 7% of their income and have access to culturally relevant care, and in which teachers can earn living wages and providers can have the stability they deserve!
Leaders’ Letters to Newspapers
EPIC Paper on Childcare Solutions in Partnership with Education Minnesota
Contact us learn more and to join our state-wide movement!