The state of child care in Minnesota, in four charts

By: - February 11, 2022 6:00 am

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Minnesota’s struggling child care industry is already a centerpiece of this year’s legislative session, as lawmakers and advocates push to spend some of the state’s $7.7 billion projected surplus on early childhood programs.

Even before 2020, child care providers said staying afloat was a challenge, and parents described finding affordable care as a nightmarish task.

Providing high-quality child care is expensive, driving costs for most families far beyond 7% of their income — the national guideline for child care spending. At the same time, early childhood education staff remain some of the lowest-paid workers in the state, unable to afford child care themselves.

The pandemic exacerbated these existing issues, experts say, and sent the industry into a full-blown crisis.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pledged to support early childhood education this session, but so far they don’t seem to agree on how to do that. Gov. Tim Walz and his fellow Democratic lawmakers propose pouring millions into early childhood education programs for low-income families and stabilization grants for providers, while Republicans say they’re hoping to reduce providers’ workload by streamlining regulations. 

Here’s more on child care in Minnesota, in four charts.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.