Child care concerns expressed with legislators

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reasonable regulations are needed for childcare in Greater Minnesota, the chairwoman of the Select Committee on Affordable Child Care said Tuesday afternoon at The Children’s Center in Albert Lea.

“We’re only as strong as our weakest link,” said District 8B Rep. Mary Franson about the need for more child care for businesses and families.

Franson’s comments were made at a discussion of child care issues with legislative staffers, District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett and Kim Nelson, executive director of The Children’s Center.

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Franson, R-Alexandria, specifically cited child care regulations not allowing infants to lay down with blankets or a pacifier at a child care facility, and said the regulation makes the infant feel less comfortable.

Bennett, R-Albert Lea, said the state has to be careful of the regulations it imposes on child care facilities, because its policies affect the day-to-day lives of child care workers in ways they couldn’t comprehend.

Bennett called for regulations for the general welfare of all child care facilities, not just based on a few specific situations.

She urged the state to not focus on punishing all child care facilities for the misdeeds of a few.

Nelson said the state is sometimes focused on fixing problems that don’t exist in child care, creating an uncertain culture for child care facilities.

She described the demographics and pay structure of the facility, and said it can be difficult to balance the need for an increase in staff salary with keeping prices low for parents.

Nelson said The Children’s Center faces similar expenses to Rochester, Mankato and Owatonna, without the other communities’ median income.

Nelson, who applied to be on the governor’s task force for early childhood and was rejected  before Gov. Mark Dayton took office, expressed concern that each member of the task force selected at the time lived in the metro area. The metro area faces different concerns than people in Greater Minnesota.

She said she would love to see per child funding for birth to age 5 education increase, but she doesn’t look at that as a realistic possibility. She said early education has an educational component that feeds into the child’s grade school and college education.

“We know that investing early pays off in the long run,” Nelson said.


About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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