Letter: A front seat to Minnesota's childcare crisis
Alaina Skoglund writes about the importance of Minnesota's retention payments for childcare teachers.
As a mom of an 18-month old who attends child care, and a childcare teacher, I have a front row seat to the child care crisis in Minnesota. But it’s more like the worst seat in the movie theater: the kind of front row seat where you have to crank your neck to see rather than a coveted front row seat, unfortunately.
I make $19.27 per hour. That $0.27 is very important. It adds up to another box of diapers, or a coveted night out with my husband. He’s a police officer who works the night shift and every other weekend, meaning we really only get to spend time together on the weekends he’s not working.
My son attends the same childcare center where I teach. His tuition takes up about 50% of my salary. It was just raised in January by 3%. Now it is $1,070 per month. It is very likely that it will be raised again soon. This time by 10%, for a total of $1,210 a month. We wanted to have children that are close in age, but if we were to have a second child now, we wouldn’t be able to afford child care.
The 10% increase in tuition is directly linked to the retention payments for childcare teachers that several childcare providers highlighted in their April 20 letter, " Minnesota Legislature must provide sustainable funding for child care ." Gov. Walz has proposed permanent retention payments to hire and retain teachers, like me, by adding to their compensation. The Legislature is proposing to fund them, but at around half the amount the governor has proposed.
Without the full funding for retention payments, childcare teacher compensation is at risk and rates for families will increase because lower retention payments are actually a cut to what childcare providers have been getting for the last two years. The only way to make up for that cut is for families to pay more, or for teacher compensation to be cut, or a mix of the two. Without a doubt, this will lead to childcare centers closing when Minnesota is already hurting for childcare spots.
My husband and I do have a plan for when childcare rates increase. I will get a server/bartender job on the weekends to cover the increase in childcare. This will further shrink the amount of time that my husband and I get to spend together, let alone both of us with our son together as a family.
We are both considered “community helpers”–a police officer and a childcare teacher. We play important and necessary roles in supporting our community. It would be really nice if the Minnesota Legislature could support us in return with retention payments at the full amount Walz has proposed so childcare costs don’t go up and teacher wages don’t go down, so families like mine can actually spend some time together being a family.
Alaina Skoglund is a childcare teacher at the Early Education Center, Minnesota State University Moorhead
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.