Deferred action for parents would improve income and well-being of children and families

Expanding access to a more stable legal status to eligible undocumented immigrants would benefit both the families involved and our economy overall. A recent report from the Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute explains how the implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) would improve the financial, psychological and overall well-being of the 10 million people across the U.S. living in households with a DAPA-eligible adult.

DAPA is part of a proposed 2014 executive action by President Barack Obama that would provide temporary work authorization and protection from deportation for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. An estimated 3.6 million unauthorized parents are eligible for DAPA; they have 4.3 million children, 85 percent of whom are U.S. citizens. In Minnesota, an estimated 27,000 unauthorized parents are eligible for DAPA.

In addition to raising their families in the U.S., DAPA-eligible parents have been contributing to and investing in their communities for many years. Seven of every 10 of them have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years. But they still have significantly lower incomes than U.S.-born Americans and other immigrants. When controlling for other demographics, DAPA-eligible men make 16 percent less per year and DAPA-eligible women make 7 percent less than their counterparts who are lawful permanent residents. MPI estimates that if these parents gained work authorization through DAPA, median family annual incomes would increase by 10 percent, benefiting both their families and their communities and lowering the poverty rate among these families.

Enacting DAPA could provide DAPA recipients with better access to education that would open doors to higher wage jobs and further increases in their incomes. DAPA recipients’ earnings are lower in part due to their limited education and lack of fluency in English. More than half of DAPA-eligible parents have less than a high school education, and 8 in 10 are not able to communicate fluently in English, potentially limiting their earnings and their abilities to access services for their children.

Protection from deportation provides additional benefits for families and children. It would reduce the daily stress and fear associated with the parent’s status, and would enable these parents to be more present in their children’s lives. Family income also would be more stable and reliable.

The MPI report concludes that implementation of DAPA “has the potential to substantially improve the incomes, and living and well-being standards for a sizeable number of unauthorized immigrant families whose children are overwhelmingly U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.” DAPA-eligible parents and their families recently experienced a setback when the U.S. Supreme Court announced a 4-4 split decision which effectively continued a nationwide delay of DAPA. If this delay is lifted, DAPA will improve the lives of millions of immigrants and their families, as well as our local and national economies.

-Clare Speer

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In Minnesota, full-time workers of color three times as likely to be poor

Most people believe that full-time work should empower somebody to fill their fridge, fill their gas tank and start putting some money in the bank. That belief is less likely to match reality if you are a worker of color in Minnesota.

A new analysis from PolicyLink and the University of Southern California Program for Environmental and Regional Equity shows that working Minnesotans of color were 50 percent more likely to be considered “working poor” in 2012 than they were in 1980. Over the same time frame, the percentage of white working Minnesotans in the same category actually decreased.

PolicyLink defines the working poor as those who are working full time and whose household income is less than twice the federal poverty guidelines. That’s because the federal poverty guidelines generally fall short of describing what a family actually needs to make ends meet. For example, a single parent with a child who earns 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline, or about $32,000, falls $1,700 to $30,000 per year short of what it takes to meet a basic-needs budget in Minnesota depending on their county of residence.

Bar graph depicting the increasing disparity in the percentage of adults who are working poor by race.

Source: PolicyLink/PERE National Equity Atlas analysis using IPUMS; details, including a further breakdown by race and ethnicity, are available at the National Equity Atlas.

When you’re working hard but aren’t paid enough to make ends meet, the results of one misfortune can quickly compound. For example, if your car breaks down and you haven’t got the cash on hand to fix it, you might miss work. At best, the missed hours and auto repair bill may require temporary sacrifices like skipping a few meals. At worst, a missed workday can mean losing your job, likely sending your family into a downward economic spiral.

The impact of living on the economic margins is well-documented in social research. When keeping a roof over your head is a daily struggle, toxic stress accumulates and can even impact children’s brain development. On the other hand, when families’ economic resources increase, children are more likely to succeed in school and, later, in the workforce.

We must do more to make sure hard work pays off by improving job quality standards and supporting low-wage workers so that they can climb into the middle class, regardless of where their economic journey started. If Minnesota’s economy is going to continue to thrum at a level that makes it one of the strongest in the nation, we need to address structural racism, institutionalized in many cases by policies that governed (and in some cases, still govern) the workplace, the housing market, the criminal justice system and other elements of our society.

While there are no quick fixes that will mend these gaps in our economy, there are important steps we can take. PolicyLink has long researched and advocated for policies that would move the country towards a more equitable economy. Closer to home, Minnesota’s own Voices for Racial Justice tracks proposed legislation that would specifically address equity issues in our backyard.

Over the past year, more policymakers recognized the need for focused and direct attention to racial equity. They took a step in the right direction by funding initiatives in this year’s supplemental budget that specifically address racial equity. For further progress to be made, Minnesota’s conversation about building an equitable economy needs to continue — and we need to make sure that the people invited to the table represent the diverse strengths and backgrounds of our state.

-Ben Horowitz

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Five takeaways from state’s July Economic Update

The state received a note of caution – with revenues on track but lower projected national economic growth – in the recent July Revenue and Economic Update from Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB). Here are our top takeaways:

1. FY 2016 ended with revenues slightly ahead of projections. State revenues in FY 2016 were $230 million, or 1.1 percent, higher than projected in the February 2016 Economic Forecast. The largest portion of these higher than expected revenues are from the corporate franchise tax, due to both higher payments and lower than projected refunds.

2. Lower national economic growth projected for 2016 and onward. Economic growth is now expected to slow to 1.9 percent, with slightly higher growth in 2017 to 2019. The start of 2016 showed some of the weakest economic growth in the past few years, due to several factors, including a struggling manufacturing sector and weak global economic growth.

July economic update projections

3. It’s not all doom and gloom. Despite the lower projections, the U.S. economy is showing some positive signs, like higher consumer spending and greater housing activity. And despite last month’s vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (often referred to as Brexit), national economic projections for the U.S. are still solid.

4. Economic forecasters are confident in their projections of economic growth. They only give a 20 percent chance for a more pessimistic scenario where a short recession is spawned by slower productivity and a deep decline in consumer and business confidence. They also assign a 15 percent probability to a more optimistic scenario where higher productivity and foreign growth boost the national economy.

5. The economic update is an important reminder that economic projections can swing. While they are only one factor in the state’s budget outlook, the weaker economic growth projections in the July update hint at smaller state budget surpluses.

-Clark Biegler

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New report shows how out of reach housing costs are

A report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2016, shows that workers need to earn almost twice the minimum wage to afford a fair market two-bedroom apartment in Minnesota.

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition calculates the “Housing Wage,” or the amount a household needs to earn to rent a fair market unit while not spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Minnesota’s Housing Wage for a two-bedroom unit is $17.76 an hour.

In some parts of Minnesota, the Housing Wage is even higher. In several counties, including Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Chisago, a full-time worker needs to earn $19.75 an hour to afford a fair market two-bedroom apartment.
housing costs meme-01

The Minnesota Housing Partnership provides a county-level look at how many hours a minimum-wage worker would need to work to afford housing. Even with the upcoming increase to $9.50 an hour for large employers, a minimum-wage worker needs to work 53 to 83 hours a week year round, depending on where they live, to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

When housing takes up such a large share of families’ incomes, they can’t afford other basic needs like transportation or child care, families may have to live in substandard or dangerous housing, or workers can’t afford to live where the jobs are.

Policy choices can play an important role in more Minnesotans affording the housing that meets their needs, both by increasing the supply of affordable housing and ensuring more Minnesotans have good-paying jobs.

In the 2014 Legislative Session, Minnesota policymakers gave minimum-wage workers in the state a long overdue raise. Later this summer, the minimum wage in Minnesota will be $9.50 an hour for large employers, and will be indexed to inflation in future years so that working Minnesotans can better keep up with the cost of housing and other basic needs.

Legislative sessions that fall in even-numbered calendar years, like the one that just ended, are typically bonding years where capital projects like affordable housing are funded. Unfortunately, this session policymakers could not come to an agreement on a bonding bill. They did add funding for affordable housing in the 2016 supplemental budget, including $500,000 for rental assistance for exploited women and children, and $750,000 for a statewide workforce and affordable housing program.

But there’s more that can be done. Policymakers should continue to make progress so that all Minnesotans can afford the basics, including stable housing.

-Clark Biegler

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U.S. Supreme Court decision halts expanded economic opportunity for immigrants

Today’s disappointing decision from the U.S. Supreme Court halts proposed actions to expand opportunity for an estimated 3.9 million unauthorized immigrants across the nation, including 30,000 in Minnesota.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced a split 4-4 ruling today, leaving the nationwide delay of President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive action in effect. The U.S. Supreme Court currently has an empty seat due to Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this year, making the possibility of split decisions much more common.

In November 2014, Obama introduced an executive action that expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and created the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). These would allow undocumented immigrants who came into the country as children, as well as parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, to request relief from deportation and receive work permits that would last for three years. However, a lawsuit brought by 26 states, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court today, prevented those actions from going into effect.

The executive action sought to recognize the contributions these residents make to their local communities and economies, and would keep families together who already call the United States their home. Obama’s action also would provide an economic boost by strengthening the country’s workforce, as young people who grew up here could advance their educations and careers, and workers could increase their earnings through jobs that better match their skills. As a result, it’s estimated that full implementation of DACA and DAPA could improve the Minnesota economy by $1.7 billion over 10 years.

Obama’s executive action would be a common-sense way to provide a more stable status to immigrants living in our communities. Next steps for the executive action to proceed are unclear at the moment, but it is possible that the U.S. Supreme Court could schedule the case for another argument when it has a full court of nine justices again.

-Clark Biegler

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Smart policy interventions can shrink racial disparities: national mortality rates edition

When researchers looked at mortality rates of younger Americans across the country, they found that policy choices are shrinking the health-based inequities that exist in our society. Their findings remind us that we’ve come a long way in the struggle for health equity, while also impelling us to continue working to ensure that someday, someone’s zip code and skin color won’t play a role in determining their life span.

Mortality rates measure the share of people in a group who die within a given time period. After looking at the way those rates changed over time, the authors found that income still matters — our youngest boys are still more likely to die in the poorest places in America — but the disparity in mortality rates between rich and poor counties for some groups has been cut nearly in half.

For example, the researchers found that in 1990, 2.38 out of every 1,000 boys ages 0 to 4 in the country’s richest counties died within three years. Over the next 20 years, that three-year mortality rate shrank to 1.32. Meanwhile, the youngest boys in the country’s poorest counties had a mortality rate of 4.49 in 1990; in 2010, it had dropped to 2.39.

Graphical depiction of mortality rates described in this article.

Source: “Mortality and Inequality: The Good News From a County-Level Approach” by Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt

America made similar equity gains across racial lines, too, but the data contain a chilling reminder of how important race remains in our country: black boys living in the wealthiest parts of America are still less likely to make it to adulthood than white boys living in the nation’s poorest counties.

The authors of the study point out that over the past 20 years disparities shrank as public investments in health and well-being increased. In that time span, the United States increased the availability of affordable health insurance for pregnant women and children through Medicaid and the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), helped Americans with low incomes stock their fridges through federal food aid, and supported families’ efforts to make ends meet through strengthened tax credits for working families.

Minnesota has been a national leader on many of these fronts — for example, by crafting innovative paths towards affordable health insurance. Such investments are now paying dividends represented by actual human lives, and show that America (and Minnesota) can narrow racial and income disparities when we make smart policy choices.

-Ben Horowitz

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Jobs, economic development top supplemental spending

While the House and Senate put forward very different visions around how to use the projected $900 million surplus this session, legislators put together a supplemental budget bill (House File 2749) in the last days of the legislative session that had a net general fund impact of $182 million for FY 2017, providing the largest funding boost in economic development. The total impact of the bill increases to $233 million in FY 2018-19. This budget bill includes $26 million in FY 2017 and $67 million in FY 2018-19 in tax cuts in its state government provisions. The Legislature also passed a tax bill totaling $257 million in FY 2017 and $544 million in FY 2018-19.

FY 2016-17 Supplemental Budget General Fund Proposals (Net General Fund Changes)
Governor House Senate Conference Agreement
Jobs and Energy $129 million $12 million $189 million $75 million
State Government $51 million -$10 million $36 million $45 million*
E-12 Education $61 million $0 $59 million $25 million
Public Safety $65 million -$793,000 $43 million $25 million
Environment and Agriculture $11 million $2 million $27 million $7 million
Higher Education $76 million $0 $48 million $5 million
Health and Human Services $86 million $0 $51 million $0
Transportation $15 million $260,000 $1.8 million $0
Tax Cuts and Aids to Local Governments (House File 848) $140 million $999 million $283 million $257 million
Total $635 million $1 billion $738 million $440 million
*This total includes the tax cut provisions in the supplemental budget bill.

In the budget bill, policymakers put the most additional resources towards jobs and economic development, where they allocated $75 million in FY 2017. Providing access to broadband for Greater Minnesota was a priority expressed by the House, Senate and governor, and about half of the funding in this area ($35 million) is for that purpose. Only $5 million can go to underserved areas, defined as areas where households and businesses have internet speeds slower than the state’s 2026 goals. Policymakers also set aside up to $500,000 for areas with significant low-income populations. The final funding for broadband is much closer to the proposed House figure of $15 million than the governor’s and Senate’s proposals of $100 million and $85 million, respectively.

The final equity agreement includes important provisions that work to move the needle on the state’s economic disparities. Policymakers dedicated $35 million in FY 2017 and $35 in FY 2018-19 for equity initiatives such as:

  • $6.9 million in grants for the Latino, Somali, Southeast Asian, and American Indian communities to address educational, employment, and workforce disparities, and to support youth; and
  • $1.5 million to promote high-wage, high-demand nontraditional jobs for women.

Policymakers invested $25 million of the surplus in E-12 education. The House and Senate agreed to fund one of the governor’s highest priorities, voluntary pre-kindergarten, with $19 million in FY 2017. The education provisions also include funding to support development of teachers and proper placement of support staff to help improve students’ learning environments, as well as for early education and equity aid funding changes. Much of these funding increases are made possible through savings resulting from a loan refinancing option for some school districts.

Policymakers invested $5 million in higher education, with $2 million for the state grant program, which lowers the cost of college for low- and moderate-income students, and $500,000 for colleges and universities to narrow gaps in college education attainment between students of color and white students.

While the House and Senate found agreement in many areas of the budget, the transportation and bonding discussions proved to be less productive. For the second year in a row, policymakers failed to pass a substantial transportation bill due to disagreements on which transportation investments the state should make and how they should be funded. Last year, policymakers passed a transportation budget that maintained the status quo, but there was no funding allocated this year. Legislative sessions in even numbered calendar years like this one are also typically “bonding years,” where policymakers pass a capital budget bill that invests in our state’s infrastructure, such as roads and buildings. Policymakers this year were unable to pass a bonding bill during the legislative session.

There is discussion that policymakers will return to the Capitol this summer to pass bonding and transportation budgets.

We discuss more of the health and human services and tax details elsewhere on our blog. In health and human services, legislators agreed to some important investments in mental health and Medical Assistance. They also missed critical opportunities to improve MinnesotaCare, expand access to affordable child care, and support struggling families through the Minnesota Family Investment Program. The tax bill includes several provisions that make working families its priority, including nation-leading improvements to the Working Family Credit, and expansions of the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

The House and Senate passed the supplemental budget bill Sunday night.  It now is in the governor’s hands where he has the power to sign, veto, or line-item veto this supplemental budget.

-Clark Biegler

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Net-zero HHS agreement invests in some vulnerable Minnesotans; misses opportunity to help many more

Sunday morning, the Supplemental Budget Conference Committee approved House File 2749, which spells out the near future of Minnesota’s Health and Human Services (HHS) budget.

The bill provides important resources that will protect vulnerable young Minnesotans and provide for the treatment of Minnesotans with mental illnesses. However, the agreement missed an important opportunity to invest our state surplus in supports for Minnesotans who are struggling to make ends meet. It doesn’t include provisions to increase economic stability for our most financially vulnerable neighbors or expand access to affordable child and health care. On the other hand, the bill also left out harmful proposals that would have made affordable health care more difficult to come by for Minnesotans with lower incomes.

The supplemental bill increases overall HHS spending by $79 million in FY 2016-17 and $154 million in FY 2018-19. The increased funding doesn’t come from the state’s general fund surplus. Instead, it is made possible by a $74 million transfer from the Health Care Access Fund, which updates an existing transfer for payments intended to cover services provided by health insurers and providers; the transfer amount was frozen in 2005.

The supplemental budget bill includes many of the limited areas of agreement between the House and Senate’s HHS budget bills, and also contains some of Governor Mark Dayton’s priorities. The bill includes:

  • $63 million in FY 2016-17 and $71 million in FY 2018-19 dedicated to the hospitals and other facilities that provide care, treatment and support for Minnesotans with mental illnesses and sex offenders;
  • $4.8 million in FY 2017 and $28 million in FY 2018-19 to allow a spouse to preserve their family’s assets when their partner needs home- or community-based services provided through Medical Assistance;
  • $2.8 million in FY 2017 and $3.8 million in FY 2018-19 to tribal governments to support their efforts to provide culturally-responsive human services;
  • $2.5 million in FY 2016 and $4.8 million in FY 2018-19 to prevent liens from being placed on older Minnesotans’ estates when they enroll in Medical Assistance;
  • $20 million in FY 2018-19 for a 15 percent increase in payment rates to foster parents;
  • $188,000 in FY 2017 and $8.4 million in FY 2018-19 to be invested in certified community behavioral health clinics, a proposal that may be matched with an additional $15 million in federal dollars; and
  • $8.8 million in FY 2018-19 to support vulnerable youth through the Homeless Youth Act, school-linked mental health services and Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth.

The bill did not include any of the proposals to seek approval from the federal government to change the way Minnesota manages our state’s options for affordable public health insurance. Negative proposals left out would have:

  • Re-instituted asset testing for MinnesotaCare, placing an unnecessary, inefficient bureaucratic wall between more than 100,000 Minnesotans and affordable health insurance.
  • Provided working Minnesotans eligible for MinnesotaCare with options for health plans that come with higher premiums and cost-sharing than MinnesotaCare.

Constructive waiver proposals would have:

  • Re-established eligibility for Minnesotans earning 200 to 275 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or $24,000 to $33,000 for a single adult. Minnesotans in this income range are nearly three times more likely to lack health insurance as Minnesotans with higher earnings. The cost of providing MinnesotaCare to these Minnesotans would likely be covered considerably or entirely by federal funding.
  • Allowed access to MinnesotaCare for people earning more than 275 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
  • Simplified health insurance enrollment processes for families with children eligible for Medical Assistance.

It is disappointing that proposals that would have helped more Minnesota families reach economic security failed to make the final cut. The list of new investments skipped the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), leaving 7,300 families on the waiting list and failing to expand the shrinking set of child care provider options for families who use CCAP by updating rates paid to providers. It also does not contain Dayton’s plan to update cash assistance offered by the Minnesota Family Investment Program, a crucial but cruelly out-of-date support for Minnesota families who fall on hard times.

The bill received final approval on the floor of the House and Senate on Sunday; it now awaits the governor’s signature before becoming law.

-Ben Horowitz

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2016 tax bill provisions focus on working Minnesotans

This legislative session, we’ve made the case that policymakers should take the opportunity to invest in broader prosperity, including by supporting the work efforts of those Minnesotans who struggle to make ends meet and get ahead.

The tax bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature this weekend includes provisions that make everyday Minnesotans the priority, especially by strengthening the Working Family Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Credit. And importantly, it does not include large and poorly targeted proposed tax cuts that would have reversed the state’s recent progress toward a more equitable tax system and threaten the state’s ability to fund schools, health care and other critical services.

The bill, House File 848 authored by Senator Rod Skoe and Representative Greg Davids, includes a strong expansion of the Working Family Credit. Based on Senate File 2586 authored by Senator Ann Rest, the provision would provide $49 million in tax reductions to about 386,000 Minnesota families and individuals across the state by:

  • Increasing the size of the tax credit for most currently eligible families and individuals;
  • Making some additional families and individuals eligible by increasing the incomes that they can earn and still qualify for the credit; and
  • Reaching younger workers without dependent children by lowering the age requirement to qualify for the credit from 25 years old to 21.

The Working Family Credit provisions for workers without dependent children are truly nation-leading, and would support younger workers and others to be successful as they start their working lives. Minnesota is among the first states (after Washington, D.C.) to move forward with improving such credits for these working people, building on bipartisan (but stalled) efforts to make similar improvements at the federal level.

In addition to supporting work, the benefits of the Working Family Credit are myriad: it helps kids succeed, can narrow racial income disparities, and is focused on those income groups who on average pay the largest share of their incomes in Minnesota taxes. That’s why the Minnesota Budget Project led the effort, with critical involvement from diverse partners, to expand the Working Family Credit this year.

The tax bill also supports Minnesota’s working parents through a targeted expansion of the state’s Child and Dependent Care Credit. Governor Mark Dayton has long championed updating this credit as part of the solution to making child care affordable for more Minnesota families, and a version of it was included in the House’s 2015 omnibus tax bill, based on a bill from Representative Jenifer Loon. A $9.8 million expansion is included in the 2016 tax bill, which would:

  • Increase the maximum amount of credit that families can receive to $1,050 for families with one child and $2,100 for families with two or more children.
  • Increase the income that families can earn and still qualify for the credit to $44,900 for families with one child and $51,800 for families with two or more children.

The bill also includes additional funding for free tax preparation and related financial capability services, which means more Minnesotans will get the tax credits for which they qualify and can use their tax refunds to build savings and a stronger economic future.

What’s also important about the bill is what is not in it. One of the primary concerns we had with the House’s 2015 tax bill was its overall size. It included $1 billion in tax cuts and diversions of existing revenues in the current budget cycle, which used up all of the surplus and more, leaving nothing left to invest to expand opportunity in Minnesota. And it contained tax cuts that grew substantially over time, threatening to put the state back into deficits.

In contrast, the 2016 omnibus tax bill is $257 million for the remainder of FY 2016-17 and $544 million in the next two-year budget cycle (FY 2018-19). Those figures include both tax cuts and additional appropriations, including increased funding to cities, counties and other local governments and for economic development initiatives.

The 2016 tax bill also leaves out the largest and most poorly targeted proposals that were on the table. It does not cut the estate tax, which would benefit only a small number of the largest estates. It leaves out expensive proposals to exempt all Social Security income, which would have had no benefit for the state’s most struggling seniors and had a high price tag that would put the services that seniors rely on at risk.

We also raised concerns about the House’s proposal to eliminate the statewide property tax paid by businesses and cabins, which would ultimately cost about $1 billion a year when fully in effect and provide the largest tax cuts to the state’s highest valued properties. And we heard directly from small-business owners who said these kinds of tax cuts were not their priority.

The 2016 tax bill includes a significantly scaled back and more targeted proposal, which exempts all commercial-industrial properties from paying the tax on the first $100,000 of the property’s value. This proposal is $31 million for a partial year tax cut in FY 2017 and about $58 million per year starting in FY 2018.

This tax bill certainly isn’t perfect. But its expansions of the Working Family Credit and Child and Dependent Care Credit focus on Minnesota families and workers striving to get ahead, and represent an important commitment to expanding economic opportunity.

-Nan Madden

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Updating child care assistance reimbursement rates important for parents

Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) reimburses child care providers so that parents with low wages can leave for work knowing that their children will be cared for in a stable, nurturing environment. But CCAP reimbursement rates are set far below market value, creating another barrier for hard-working parents.

Through CCAP, which includes Basic Sliding Fee, Minnesota’s counties pay child care providers who serve children while their parents are at work or looking for a job. A family of four is eligible for Basic Sliding Fee if they earn $43,000 or less; unfortunately, the resource currently has a waiting list that is 7,300 families long.

Even when parents are able to benefit from Basic Sliding Fee, they are confronted by another problem. The state sets the maximum rate counties can pay child care providers who serve families through CCAP. For years, those rates have been set well below what a typical provider charges for their services. Currently, the reimbursement rates cover less than a third of the options available to parents. Parents may not be able to find a provider willing to accept their child for such low rates.

The Senate and Governor Mark Dayton have taken steps towards addressing the provider rate problem by proposing increases to CCAP payments. In addition to shrinking the Basic Sliding Fee waiting list, policymakers should make sure that CCAP rates give this important work its due.

-Ben Horowitz

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