A letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar on providing quality child care

Dear Senator Klobuchar:

I appreciate you taking the time to visit with the constituents on the important issue of child care.  I pride myself on providing quality care to children of the hard working parents of this region. I was recently quoted as saying “silly rules” are a problem that interferes with child care resources. However, I want to clarify that I firmly believe that rules and regulations are very important and want all child care facilities held to the highest standard. But one of the main issues is that we do not have state or federal support, other than to punish or cite violations, and that is a problem.

Each year we are inspected and scrutinized for the food we provide, the limitations of our facilities and the qualifications of our staff. In the 20 years I have been in child care, the state inspectors have found very few violations in my center, but I spend countless hours reading about violations on the Minnesota Department of Human Services website and consulting with other providers that have violations. All providers expect inspectors to find violations and some licensers seem to feel it is their job to be critical versus being helpful.

I have never received a thank you or supportive comment from the agency meant to support us for the hard work we do. Don’t get me wrong we get appreciation from the parents and community and most importantly from the children we serve. Our job we are doing is at the most important time in a child’s life and development. Research shows the attention, education and care children receive before the age of 5 years, determines their character, future success and what type of leaders we will have.

The family situations are getting harder. I see more kids being abused and neglected. People have a hard time paying their child care bills on top of their living expenses. It is hard to find qualified staff and pay them what they deserve so the turnover is all too common. The expectations and regulations need to be there for the safety of the children, but they should not be used to discredit quality facilities and exceptional providers from being able to provide a service that the community needs. Recognition banquets are nice, but they don’t keep the doors open.

What would be most helpful is a Child Care Assistance package where children and parents could get quality Child Care services that ensure that our children are prepared not only for school, but their futures. A subsidy for each child would allow the providers to be qualified while ensuring they provide the best care possible. 

Without this, you will continue to face a day care shortfall and in turn a child care crisis which will lead to a work force crisis. Businesses need employees, employees need quality child care options and our kids deserve more than whomever is available and willing to do this important work for little to nothing.

Kari Condezo

Director of SMSU Childcare Center