Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan Host Child Care Roundtable In Little Falls
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan visited Little Falls today to meet with area leaders and child care advocates. The roundtable focused on a hot button issue that is affecting many Minnesotans today, the child care shortage.
According to the Initiative Foundation, in Minnesota, there are more than four children under the age of 5 for every one available child care center slot.
“This issue, for a decade, has been coming up first on people’s minds when they tell us what’s holding back growth in this community. We can’t find enough employees and we can’t find child care,” said Gov. Walz.
That is why Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan visited Little Falls Wednesday to hold a roundtable with local officials and child care advocates.
“We have to step back a little bit. Take the blinders off and say, ‘okay, what really can work here?’” said Rep. Ron Kresha of Minnesota House District 9B. “’What are some creative solutions?’”
The lack of available, affordable child care is a major barrier to economic growth.
“Not only does the lack of sufficient child care slots impact kids, but it also means that if those slots aren’t available then some parents can’t be out starting a business, or working in a business,” explained Initiative Foundation CEO Matt Varilek.
Some issues that members of the roundtable brought up were how can providers make better wages and how can the private and public sector come together to tackle this issue.
“When we’re talking about the folks who are providing this care, these are entrepreneurs. They’re small business owners. It’s too often the choice of capital and paying off a debt service for a building or paying my employees,” said Lt. Gov. Flanagan.
“There’s a regulatory component to this as well as an economic component to it,” added Varilek. “So engaging all of that wisdom, engaging all of those partners is what’s going to be necessary to make progress.”
Looking towards the future, the group is hopeful that through partnership and bipartisanship, there are ways to tackle the child care shortage crisis.
“We’re getting ready for the next legislative session and that’s why we’re here so we can co-create some of these policy solutions and try to implement them in a bipartisan way,” said Lt. Gov. Flanagan.
“The importance of these children’s well-being and the importance of our communities is riding on this and we have a responsibility to make sure that we’re providing you opportunity to thrive, an opportunity to do what your passion is and what you care about,” said Gov. Walz. “To not over regulate you, but to protect those folks and you who are in those situations.”
The Initiative Foundation recently received a $150,000 Department of Health and Human Services grant that will allow them to launch new child care pilot programs in four central Minnesota communities.