Great Start Compensation Support Payments Launch
The new Great Start Compensation Support Payment Program starts this month. Last spring, the Minnesota Legislature approved a range of child care investments, including funds to continue monthly grant payments to providers. Child care centers must use the funding from the program to increase staff compensation and benefits, while family child care programs can use the funds for a wider variety of costs.
The Support Payments build off Minnesota’s previous Child Care Stabilization Grant Program, which helped support about 70% of the state’s child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the Minnesota legislature had not chosen to sustain that funding, the Century Foundation predicted that more than 70,000 Minnesota children could have lost care.
Although monthly support grants were originally conceived as a response to the public health emergency of Covid-19, the child care system is facing an ongoing crisis of sustainability. Child care is an essential function for the economy, whether or not there is a pandemic. Providing monthly direct payments to providers is a successful strategy for keeping programs open and improving income for early educators. According to data from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, child care programs that received stabilization grants were more likely to raise employees’ pay, keep staff turnover down, and continue operating.
As Minnesota Governor Tim Walz noted in a press release announcing the program, “Minnesota’s economy doesn’t work without child care providers. Without the dedicated care they provide, parents can’t work and children miss early learning opportunities critical to brain development. We are boosting the pay and benefits those providers receive to grow the workforce and reflect the critical work they do each and every day.”
The application period for the first month of assistance closed on October 25, with the first payments set to go out the same week. Support and technical assistance for the program is available from Child Care Aware of Minnesota, and more information about the grants is available on the Support Payments webpage.