Minnesota Senator Tina Smith argues for COVID financial relief to childcare centers

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 10:42 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Minnesota Senator Tina Smith announced plans Friday to bring more financial relief to childcare centers in Minnesota and throughout the country.

Smith is pushing a plan to include $40 billion for daycare providers in the next federal COVID relief bill.

“The COVID pandemic has pushed childcare to the brink and put many providers at risk of going out of business. Finding good quality, affordable childcare had been a huge challenge for families even before the pandemic and COVID-19 has made the situation so much worse” said Senator Smith.

The last package, which rolled out in December, included $10 billion for childcare. Even with that funding, many daycares still had to close their doors due to the pandemic, and many aren’t sure if they’ll be able to reopen once it is over.

Winona State University Children’s Center teacher Cassie Straton says “quite honestly, I’m sure the only reason we are still open today is because of our partnership with Winona State University. An independent childcare center would not have been able to shut their doors for six months and reopen.”

Smith says the price of childcare is one of the bigger issues facing Americans today and if the issue isn’t resolved, it will be hard for the economy to come back.

Childcare specialists believe that this bill is essential for not only rebuilding the economy but also for children’s early development.

According to the Winona Area Public Schools Community Education Director Ann Riebel, the first five years of a child’s life are the most valuable.

“We need good quality care with good strong providers to support parents while they are at work with the development of their children,” Riebel says.

While not every family uses childcare, it is still an integral part of our economy. Most of the money earmarked for childcare in the bill would be used to help daycares pay bills, but it would also provide funds for protective equipment and more training.

Smith believes that this bill is essential to getting parents back into the workforce and says she hopes it will be involved in the COVID relief package currently being discussed on Capitol Hill.

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