Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio reports, Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled that all three state child care assistance programs should remain funded during the state government shutdown.
For more than a week, Minnesota’s non-critical governmental services have ground to a halt. Child-care subsidies have dried up, and this is having a significant impact on low-income families and the centers that serve their children.
The New York Times reports “the most significant impact so far for Minnesotans who do not work for the government appears to be in the sort of everyday thing, like child care for the poor, that had been easy to overlook for those not dependent on it.”
The article features a teenager who has been drafted to watch her younger siblings since her mother can’t afford day care without the subsidy. Day care centers say enrollment has already plummeted in just a few days.
According to the national Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, has requested that child-care assistance be deemed an essential government service, and the court-appointed monitor determining what services can be provided during shutdown is considering the request.
I’m curious about the potential long-term impact of even a short break in child care subsidies. It doesn’t take long for centers to lay off staff or close when money gets tight. If families make alternate arrangements, will they come back when the budget crisis is settled? What will this do to the quality of early learning their children are receiving? Are older children being pulled out of summer programs to watch their siblings, and will this exacerbate summer learning loss?
Would love to hear from Minnesotans on what they are seeing so far. Did the restoration of funds come in time to keep centers open, or had centers already taken unsustainable operating losses?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.