Child Care Assistance Victim of Minnesota State Shutdown

07/14/2011 – SEE UPDATE HERE

Child Care Assistance is one of the victims of the Minnesota State Shutdown.

From a Friday, July 7, 2011 article from Minnesota Public Radio:

Twenty-six thousand Minnesota families received notice from the state that their child care subsidies would be cut off in a government shutdown. But the money comes from a pool of federal, state and county dollars. A judge could decide if those dollars can be sorted, and possibly distributed toward child care.

The article continues…

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton did not include child care subsidies in his original list of what he considered essential government services.

Ramsey County judge Kathleen Gearin agreed with Dayton in her ruling last week that state child care subsidies are not critical core services. But she also ruled the state was obligated to deliver programs paid for with federal dollars. Dayton this week amended his list of essential services to include child care subsidies. Gearin hasn’t yet ruled on this request.

As it stands, Gearin’s current ruling complicates the issue, because Minnesota uses federal dollars from a program called Temporary Aid for Needy Families to partly cover child care subsidies. Mary Nienow with the statewide advocacy group Child Care Works, hopes for a decision soon.

“Where the confusion lies is that all child care assistance has elements of TANF funding within it, and it’s mingled with state and local dollars and there’s just no way to separate the funding pools in order to provide child care assistance,” Nienow said.

The court-appointed special master, Kathleen Blatz, will hear more testimony Thursday on the child care issue. Families and their providers in the meantime are figuring out who pays.

Cisa Keller, of the Minnesota Child Care Association and New Horizon Academy, said some centers are still accepting children whose parents receive subsidies, but the families must pay if the state doesn’t.

It is unclear when a judge will rule on the request to begin payments for Child Care Assistance and it is unclear — when that ruling is issued — whether Child Care Assistance payments will be one of the few government programs that will be granted special status to continue operation even while the rest of the state government is shut down.

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