Rep. Dean Phillips hosts roundtable on youngster care and early studying | Authorities


Rep. Dean Phillips is hosting an online roundtable on May 11th that will focus on childcare and early learning. (Screen capture)

The pandemic continues to show high costs, low wages and an impact on the workforce

The impact of childcare and early learning on families in Minnesota was the central theme of a panel discussion hosted by Dean Phillips, US representative for the 3rd District of Minnesota, on May 11th.

The online event was attended by a group of specialists who addressed issues arising from the lack of affordable, accessible childcare in Minnesota and the exacerbation of these issues with the pandemic.

“Even before the pandemic, Minnesota was at the bottom of all 50 states on a number of key measures, including childcare costs,” Phillips said, pointing out that the state is consistently ranked the third or fourth most expensive state in the country for child care.

Phillips also noted that Minnesota ranks as one of the worst states in the country for educational achievement gaps. In 2019, the state ranked 50th in terms of racial disparities in school graduation rates.

“While we’re making a little headway in some areas and there are some reasons for hope, the effects of the pandemic could be devastating if we don’t do something,” Phillips said. “And that is the subject of today’s conversation.”

The Congressman said the US $ 1.9 trillion rescue plan passed in March included “a historic expansion in child tax credits,” that an average benefit of $ 2,500 for 38,000 families and an exemption of approximately 5,600 Will lift children out of poverty in the Phillips Congressional District.

“Nationwide, the American rescue plan is supposed to reduce child poverty by 50%,” said Phillips.

Now President Joe Biden’s administration has proposed the American Families Plan, a $ 1.8 trillion package to build on the rescue plan by investing in early childhood learning, childcare, health care and paid family vacations.

“[These are] Investments where we should expect a return to human performance and self-sufficiency and economic savings, ”said Phillips.

The American Families Plan provides $ 200 billion for free universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and $ 109 billion for two years of free community college.

Art Rolnick, a senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a panelist, said research shows that children who have access to quality early childhood education are better prepared for kindergarten and more likely to graduate from high school and high School visit college.

Rolnick said he advocates a targeted approach as the best, most cost-effective way to close the state’s performance gap.

“In Minnesota, we offer early intervention scholarships to our most vulnerable families so their children can participate in quality programs of their choice,” Rolnick said, claiming that scholarships target the most vulnerable children, empower and engage parents, rather than programs and better ones Supporting the early childhood education industry.

The roundtable also addressed the major workforce challenges facing early childhood education and childcare.

Clare Sanford, director of community and government relations at New Horizon Academy, said childcare has not been seen as a prestigious profession with specialized knowledge and skills for too long. She also noted that low wages are prevalent in the industry because there aren’t enough resources to get around.

“In Minnesota, the Department of Employment and Economic Development has some awesome data,” said Sanford. “Apparently we pay park rangers more to watch cars than professionals do to care for and raise our young children.”

Sanford said additional scholarships could help students interested in completing early childhood degrees. She also noted that a standardized career ladder should be established for the profession.

“There is a national consortium of proponents who have developed something like Power to the Profession for early childhood. This is a framework that standardizes what early childhood professionals should know and be able to do at various levels, with credentials that are easily transferable between states, ”said Sanford. “Think about nursing. When you say “nurse” people know what that means … We need the same kind of professional standardization, preparation, and fair pay in our field. “

Overall, the pandemic hit families with low incomes disproportionately. Ryan Nunn, vice president of community development and engagement for the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, pointed out several reasons why this was the case, including the fact that the ability to work from home is severely compromised by education and income. Lower-income workers were also more affected by mandatory closings and restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in the leisure and hospitality industries.

Women have also experienced disproportionate influence. Since the pandemic began, 400,000 women have left the workforce compared to men, partly due to responsibility for childcare.

Bharti Wahi, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota, also attended the panel discussion, highlighting the importance of providing paid family and medical leave.

“We’re one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t offer paid family vacations,” she said.

The American Families Plan includes a plan to provide direct support to workers and families through the creation of a nationwide comprehensive family and sick leave program that would align the U.S. with similar countries that offer paid leave programs.

The federal plan also proposes expanding tax cuts in the US bailout plan that will benefit low- and middle-income workers and families. The plan would extend the child tax credit through 2025, but would also expand it and make it fully refundable on a permanent basis.

“The child tax credit changes the understanding that every family deserves this support,” said Debra Fitzpatrick, director of policy and legislation for the Minnesota Children’s Defense Fund. “Every child is an investment in the common good. … We know that families in deep poverty who live in the low-wage world of work often have very volatile incomes. The idea that there was a certain amount of income that they would have each month to make sure they could provide the most important things they need for their family would be really critical. “

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