Minnesota Deems Child Care Subsidy Program "Not Critical" During Government Shutdown

Jul 12, 2011

By Stephanie Schmit

Twenty-one thousand of Minnesota's families rely on child care subsidies to pay part of their child care costs so they can go to work. Yet, the state has deemed the child care subsidy program not critical enough to continue during the government shutdown that has been underway for more than a week--jeopardizing the health and safety of approximately 37,500 children as their parents struggle with how to cover their child care costs and keep their jobs.  Without the subsidy, child care is simply too expensive for many families. Child care providers are already reporting that enrollment has plummeted since the subsidy program has been shut down, deeply cutting into the income of providers who already operate in the margins.

What the state sees as "not critical" is in fact a link to employment for thousands of low-income workers. Ninety-seven percent of families receiving help with child care in Minnesota are working or in training or education programs. With national unemployment now at its highest point so far this year, no state can afford to deem such an important work support as "not critical". Child care subsidies are needed more than ever during difficult times; they help poor families work, provide jobs, and stimulate the economy. The child care sector itself is an important component of the economy; for every dollar spent directly on child care in Minnesota, approximately two additional dollars are generated in sales in the state's overall economy.

Minnesota's Governor Dayton has requested that the child care assistance program continue during the shutdown and his request is currently being considered by the court-appointed monitor responsible for deciding which services are essential during the shutdown. For the sake of Minnesota's children and families, policymakers, regardless of their political differences, should recognize the crucial importance of government services that keep America working and children learning.


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