Care providers having tough time
It is great to see coverage on the child care field in the Daily Globe (2/15/06, Day Care in Minnesota Among Most Expensive). As the Director of the local Child Care Resource and Referral program at SMOC, I'd like to bring to light a few key poin...
It is great to see coverage on the child care field in the Daily Globe (2/15/06, Day Care in Minnesota Among Most Expensive). As the Director of the local Child Care Resource and Referral program at SMOC, I'd like to bring to light a few key points missed in the article. While the cost of child care is a major investment for Minnesota families, the statewide averages reported on costs of child care are misleading for the families and child care programs here in southwestern Minnesota.
To add some context, the average full-time weekly cost for an infant at a child care center in Region 8 is $97.50. The average full-time weekly cost for an infant at a family child care setting in Region 8 is $103.03. It is important to note these figures are calculated with numbers reported by child care programs that actually have a weekly rate. These rates are not reflective of hourly rates, nor do they include all of the family child care providers or child care centers in Region 8.
The "Breaking the Piggy Bank: Parents and the High Price of Child Care" report released by NACCRRA in Washington lists $983 as the "average" monthly child care center cost for an infant in Minnesota. For our nine-county service area in southwestern Minnesota, the average monthly child care center cost is $422.50 per month (43 percent of the Minnesota "average" in the national report).
It must further be pointed out that many child care providers in rural Minnesota -- among the most hard-working and needed professionals in our community -- are barely getting by. The recent media coverage might lead people to believe child care providers are getting rich at the expense of parents. DHS reports that child care centers operate on a less than 1 percent profit margin while family child are provider's average hourly rate below minimum wage. The bottom line is that child care providers along with parents carry too much of the burden for the majority of the cost of the child care system.
The child care system throughout Minnesota helps all of us by keeping our statewide economy running. We must increase the federal, state, and local investment in quality child care. Just as we underwrite the cost of our nation's university system, we must make a broad-based investment to underwrite the cost of child care. There is simply no way to ensure that every child can enter school ready to succeed unless, as a society, we invest in quality child care.