Day-care Owners Hope for Surplus Money to Offset COVID Costs
The state’s projected surplus of nearly $9.3 billion has the attention of almost everyone impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes local child-care providers who are calling on state lawmakers to use a portion of the surplus for child care relief.
“It is still a struggle. We still have to clean excessively because the group we have can’t be vaccinated,” said Sue Huston, owner of Sue’s Crew Daycare in Crystal.
Huston has been in the child-care business for more than 20 years. She says her operating expenses increased significantly during the pandemic due to extra cleaning costs.
“I spend probably in a month $300 worth in just the cleaning supplies that’s above and beyond what I used to,” said Huston.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has several grant programs to stabilize the child-care industry. However, some day-care groups say more needs to be done.
“The grants are not enough because of the scale of the child-care crisis we have,” said Clare Stanford with the Minnesota Child Care Association. “But we are thrilled that there are proposals to continue those grants.”
Currently, those grants are being funded with federal emergency COVID-19 money. But the support will expire in about a year. The Minnesota Child Care Association wants the state legislature to use state dollars to continue funding those grants.
“We want families to have more affordable and accessible child-care options. And we want early educators who deliver that child care to have more compensation,” explained Sanford.
Meanwhile, Huston hopes the state’s budget surplus will allow child-care providers like herself to continue doing the work they love.
“I want to do this until I retire, and that’s about 10 years away. So, I’ve got 10 more years and I want to stay afloat.”