Patty Busse | Stillwater Patch | February 14, 2012
Rep. Nora Slawik announced introduction of the Child Care Affordability Act Tuesday in the home of a St. Paul day care provider.
“How can we look at funding the Vikings stadium for $300 million and we can’t find the money for kids down at the Capitol?” said Slawik (DFL-Maplewood). “We need to make sure there’s high quality, affordable childcare.”
The bill, HF2219, would restore the 2.5 percent rate cut made to subsidized child care providers in the 2011 legislative session and eliminate the waiting list for child care assistance, which is now 7,000 families long, Slawik said.
Child care provider Sharon Born, of Waseca, said she’s had to start working evenings and weekends to make up for the money she lost due to the child care assistance cuts. Despite the hardship, she said her primary concern is what’s happening to the children in the 7,000 families on the waiting list for assistance.
“Who’s watching these kids?” Born said. “My experience is a lot of these kids are not safe.”
The reforms set forth in the bill—which also include reinstating funding for professional development of child care providers—wouldn’t come cheap. Its estimated cost would be between $300 million and $500 million, which Slawik noted, is about the same as the proposed state contribution toward the Vikings stadium.
“There’s a cost to taking care of kids,” Slawik said. “I think kids should be the priority in this state.”
Sen. Mary Jo McGuire (DFL-Falcon Heights) authored the Senate version of the bill.