To the editor:

We need to prioritize child care investments in the next Coronavirus relief package. The last few months have been extremely difficult for the child care field—which is facing financial challenges and statewide shortages. Both center-based and home-based child care providers need assistance sooner rather than later to stay open and support Minnesota’s working families, economic recovery, and COVID-19 response.

Before COVID-19, Minnesota already was in the throes of a child care crisis. With the additional strain of the pandemic, we’re at risk of losing even more providers. Shortages are especially severe in Greater Minnesota.

Like many small businesses, child care programs have suffered devastating revenue losses. At the same time, they’re experiencing increased costs due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as reduced group sizes and increased sanitation and staffing needs. No doubt many industries are facing similar challenges. Child care, however, is unique in that it is the industry that allows others to work. It is essential to support child care so that essential staff are on the job, parents have support as the wider economy reopens, and children’s educations aren’t further disrupted.

The $3.5 billion in supplemental funding the CARES Act provided to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) was an important first step. But the industry needs more support to meet the many challenges. To stabilize the child care system amidst the pandemic, we ask that Congress provide at least $50 billion in dedicated child care funding through CCDBG in the next Coronavirus relief package.

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Nancy Jost

Director of Early Childhood, West Central Initiative

Fergus Falls, MN