Sparks Co-authors Child Care Affordability Act

As a father of three with a new baby due any day, I can certainly empathize with working families and daycare struggles. One of the most important decisions parents have to make is how to keep our kids safe and cared for while we are at work. I’ve always been proud that Minnesota has been a leader in child care assistance funding. This commitment to childcare funding has allowed many parents, especially those living paycheck-to-paycheck, to afford childcare expenses.
Unfortunately, Minnesota’s strong commitment to funding child care was severely undermined last session when the final budget negotiations led to the largest cuts to subsidized childcare in recent history. These cuts were especially difficult for working families struggling to cover their childcare expenses to absorb. To address this problem, I worked with several other legislators to find ways to restore some of this important funding.
The Child Care Affordability Act, which I am a co-author, would restore the 2.5 percent rate cuts made to subsidized child care providers in 2011 for more than 7,000 Minnesota families. This would also virtually eliminate the waiting list for child care assistance for more than 7,000 Minnesota families.
The Child Care Affordability Act has three major components:
• It will restore the cuts made to child care providers made during the 2011 legislative session and ensure that providers are reimbursed at 75 percent of the fair market rate.
• It will reinstate the funding for professional development of our child care providers. Under this provision, the commissioner will develop standards to provide child care services to enable eligible families to participate in employment, training or education programs.
• It will eliminate the waiting list for child care assistance in Minnesota. Currently, there are more than 7,000 families waiting for child care assistance in order which would allow them to go to work.
As a parent, I value high-quality child care because it strengthens school readiness, ensures a stable workforce and moves many families out of poverty. This effort supplements my ongoing work with Kim Nelson and her staff at the Albert Lea Children’s Center and other local providers to make sure kids in Minnesota, whose families need just a little help with childcare expenses, are able to attend a safe childcare center while their parents go work.
Thank you for allowing me to represent Southern Minnesota as your State Senator–it is an honor to serve. Please contact me with any questions or concerns. I can be reached at Room 19 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155. My phone number 651-296-9248 and email sen.dan.sparks@senate.mn.
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Senator Dan Sparks
Dan Sparks represents District 27, which includes all or portions of Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Mower, and Steele counties in the southeastern part of the state.

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