Senator Draheim, MN Senate pass bipartisan proposals that keep childcare providers in business, improve choices for parents

Mankato Times

ST PAUL, MINN. — On Monday, May 7, Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake) and the Minnesota State Senate passed a series of bipartisan bills aimed at addressing the problem of inadequate, expensive childcare by encouraging existing providers to stay in business and lower the barriers of entry for new providers.

“Consistently, I hear from working families that have little to no options for childcare,” said Senator Draheim. “And, in Greater Minnesota, the problem appears to be worse. By lessening the burdensome and unnecessary regulations childcare providers face, this is a good first step toward keeping them in business and increasing choices for parents who want to work.”

Specifically, the Senate passed S.F. 3310, S.F. 2683, and S.F. 2685. The proposals make staffing requirements more flexible, reduce unnecessary paperwork, provide more transparency for providers and the public, require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to identify onerous regulatory burdens and take steps to reduce them, exempt most minor children of in-home childcare providers from providing fingerprints and photographs for background study purposes – a demeaning practice that treated the children like criminals, and exempt most providers from unnecessary training.

On Tuesday, May 8, Senator Draheim participated in a special hearing that addressed Minnesota’s childcare shortage.

“Time and again, we heard from childcare providers that were saddled with unnecessary and onerous regulations from DHS,” added Senator Draheim. “It is no wonder that thousands of childcare providers have left the industry over the last few years. Government should be looking out for the welfare of our children and encouraging new providers to enter the industry, not drive them to close.”

Childcare providers testified that rules and regulations imposed on the industry by DHS are increasingly punitive and do not pass the common-sense test. For instance, childcare providers must sometimes turn away siblings when their ages are not perfectly spaced to allow for a certain ratio of caretakers-to-children, even when the overlap is only a month or two. Something as simple as a misplaced bobby pin could cost a provider hundreds of dollars in fines, regulations are repetitive, and continuous education requirements are unreasonable. These issues are pushing providers out of the business, creating a crisis-level childcare shortage, and limiting parents’ career options. A new subcommittee on childcare availability will be established to study the regulatory and administrative barriers that exist for child care providers and develop recommendations to reduce the burden.

“We need to remember that the childcare shortage doesn’t just affect young families, but everyone in Minnesota,” said Senator Draheim. “When parents are forced to leave the workforce to stay home with their children because there are no other options, we all pay the economic cost. By getting government out of the way and encouraging child care providers to keep their doors and homes open, we can solve this problem together.”

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