Lawmakers take action on child care regulations, but new funding proposals fall by the wayside
The GMNP advocated for three pieces of legislation this session that aimed at reducing the child care shortage in Greater Minnesota: funding for initiative foundations to help provide training to expand access to quality child care; a program modeled after the BDPI grant program which could assist communities to build, upgrade or expand facilities; and additional funding for the Greater Minnesota Child Care Grants Program to increase child care availability.
The latter bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar), ultimately gained traction. Originally started as a modest investment in the 2017 session targeted at helping providers expand, this grant program saw large results – creating more than 300 new child care slots with only $500,000 in funding. However, additional funding for this program fell victim to end-of-session maneuvering: the GOP combined several bills into one large supplemental budget bill, hoping to force the Governor’s hand on several provisions. The Governor vetoed the bill last week.
Efforts to address some regulatory concerns related to child care had more success. SF 2683/HF 4249, authored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake), exempts minor children of in-home providers from providing fingerprints and photos for background checks, a practice which some providers found intrusive. Another bill, SF 2685/HF 3253, authored by Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) and Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), exempts child care providers from some training originally required of caretakers of those with disabilities. Both of these bills were signed into law.
A third bill, SF 3310/HF 3403, authored by Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne) and Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville), passed the Legislature and is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature. If signed into law, this bill will make staffing requirements more flexible, reduce paperwork for child care providers, and require the state Department of Human Services to identify regulatory burdens and take steps to reduce them.