Daycare: A Tale of Big Government

Bruce Kaskubar analysis, commentary

In Olmsted County’s 2019 residential survey, belief that our county has affordable child care has declined from 51 to 26 (on a scale of 100) since 2013.

Is the belief real?

Yes. The number of family providers has declined. The number of corporate providers has increased. For infants, corporate providers cost about $300 per week while family providers cost about $170 per week. The tilt toward corporate centers increases the average cost. $170 per week isn’t chump change. $300? Wow.

What’s going on?

Pretty much, government.

The Dayton administration pushed to unionize child care providers by using a shameful ruse. That, and the tactics used by the union, disgusted many family operators (and observers!).

Minnesota’s pre-K policies leave daycare providers more dependent on just infants and toddlers as four-year-olds get their daycare at school (on the taxpayers’ dime).

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has piled on new rules in the realm of ridiculous. Providers are fined for holding sleeping babies because arms are not safe sleep spaces. Seriously.

It was unhelpful (not to mention a breach of the fourth Amendment) to try to require that providers’ children be fingerprinted and entered into an FBI database just in case something untoward happens.

Providers are required to take 16 hours of training per year. Taking a class even one day late can lead to penalties. It’s hard to believe a seasoned provider can need 16 hours of training per year.

Hot water temperatures one degree higher than standards can lead to penalties. Many hot water heaters do not allow settings based on actual temperature. Mine just has 4 or 5 buttons.

Operation manuals have to have indexes in a certain format. The list goes on and on. How many of us would put up with all that?

While some family providers have already decided to close, seventy (!) percent of family daycare providers have considered closing and over 9 in 10 of them were because of government policy.1 And don’t forget, the same outfit taking caregivers to task for babies sleeping in their arms is blowing off at least $100 million dollars in daycare fraud! Monkeys covering their eyes, ears, and mouths come to mind.

What could help?

Well, not what the government is doing: salving symptoms. They’re increasing the subsidy for those who can’t afford child care. Brilliant! Cause trouble that raises prices, then ask the taxpayers to pay for the screw up. What else is new?

Family child care is the most affordable form of licensed care in Minnesota. We should encourage it and instead the Department of Human Services discourages it (by providers’ own admissions). Allow neighbors to trust each other with decisions about their own children. Remove the stifling rules. Reduce DHS staffing or reassign them to dig into the fraud fiasco.

1 Minnesota Association of Family Child Care (MACCP) Policy Improvement Survey, 2018