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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Hauschild promotes child care assistance for middle class

David Colburn
Posted 11/15/23

REGIONAL- District 3 state Sen. Grant Hauschild, DFL- Hermantown, knows more about the child care shortage in Minnesota than what he’s learned from three child care roundtables he’s …

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Hauschild promotes child care assistance for middle class


REGIONAL- District 3 state Sen. Grant Hauschild, DFL- Hermantown, knows more about the child care shortage in Minnesota than what he’s learned from three child care roundtables he’s attended throughout the district.
“More important than my public service is my personal commitment as a father,” Hauschild said Monday in a House committee hearing on the issue. “I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old. My wife is a nurse, which is a very busy professional commitment for being on call and working long hours. Her job is not one with flexibility. And given my own service, our reliance on child care is critical.”
Hauschild was appearing before the committee to talk about his work with Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL-Eden Prairie) on a proposal to make child care more affordable for middle-income Minnesotans.
“I continue to hear about the struggle families are facing with child care,” Hauschild said. “It’s by far in the top three issues that I hear about on a day-to-day basis. In addition, we have prospective employers that I’m aware of who are trying to open pretty large businesses from industry and manufacturing, to mining adjacent industries that are facing big challenges in opening because of housing and child care.”
“Our families are spending more on child care than their mortgages,” he continued. “That’s unsustainable and we have to address it. My wife and I have considered having a third child and talked about it openly. We have decided not to do that at this time because of child care costs. And I know that there are many families around Minnesota who are in the same boat. While we did a lot for child care this last session, especially as it relates to child care center stability and support for families and children most in need, we also need to support middle class families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
Information presented during the meeting noted that a family with an infant and a four-year-old making the median income in Minnesota would have to pay 37 percent of their income on childcare costs, or over $38,000 a year. The average cost for infant care is $16,087 annually, and the cost for preschool-age care is $12,252. The average cost of infant care is almost 31 percent more than average rent.
Kotyza-Witthuhn noted that the federal Department of Health and Human Services has set an ideal target of seven percent of family income going for child care costs.
“You’d have to go all the way up to $297,000 for a family to not spend more than seven percent of their income in a rural area,” she said. “It’s $340,000 annually in the urban areas. Minnesotans don’t make that much money, so we really have to get creative here.”
The U.S. Census reported the median household income in Minnesota in 2021 was $77,706. But a family of four can make no more than $59,053 to be eligible for the state’s child care assistance program.
Hauschild and Kotyza-Witthuhn’s Great Start Affordability proposal, which is still being drafted, would create a child care subsidy program for families earning up to 150 percent of the state’s median income, providing much needed aid to middle-income families.
Payments, scaled by income, would go directly to a family’s child care provider, who would then credit them that amount on their bill. The system would piggyback on the framework of the current low-income assistance program, meaning that the program could begin in the fall of 2024 if enacted in the next legislative session.
“As a mom of four kids nine and under, when it comes to the cost of child care and early childhood education, I know that the struggle is real,” Kotyza-Witthuhn said.
“If we want Minnesota to be the best place to raise a family and support businesses, workforce and our economy, we must address the child care affordability crisis,” Hauschild said.
The House Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee also heard testimony from parents and child care professionals talking about the financial challenge they face.
“We pay more for child care than we do for our mortgage,” revealed Brittany Kjenaas, a parent from Mt. Iron. “There’s no way we could double that and still afford to live. There are a lot of factors that go into a family’s decisions about how and when to grow their family, but I never thought that child care costs would end up being the one that overrode every other one. Every Minnesota family deserves to afford their lives, and making child care affordable is a concrete and necessary step to making that possible.”