ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota is among the states where child care is least affordable, according to the latest research.
The report from Child Care Aware of America ranks Minnesota with the fourth-highest burden in the nation when comparing the average cost against average income.
However, Ann McCulley, executive director of Child Care Aware of Minnesota, said the rankings are a bit misleading since they’re calculated on center-based prices.
“So some of the cost is attributable to the fact that we are much larger as a family child-care community, and the centers that we do have are predominately located in the Twin Cities metro area and in Rochester,” she said. “And those tend to be the areas that have the highest costs and reimbursement rates.”
The average cost for a 4-year-old in a center in Minnesota is nearly $11,000 a year, and for an infant it’s almost $14,000 a year.
The difference in costs between center-based care and the more common and less-expensive in-home providers can be thousands of dollars, but McCully said it still takes up a large part of the budget for many families. That’s why she’s hoping lawmakers will increase funding for the early-learning scholarships program and raise the income limit on the child-care tax credit.
“That has been stuck at a pretty low level for many, many years, and frankly we have a lot of families who would be considered even middle-income who find the cost of child care very difficult to reach,” she said. “So increasing both who can access that tax credit and how much they can receive would be a really good step forward.”
With the newly announced $1 billion budget surplus, Gov. Mark Dayton said he’s very interested in expanding the child-care tax credit, and it’s expected to be part of his budget plan to be released Jan. 27.
The report is online at usa.childcareaware.org.