Christina Valdez: Walz budget would give child care a boost

The governor’s proposed funding through 2021 will allow many child care centers to keep their doors open and maintain the high quality of care and education they strive for and that our children require.

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As directors of community-based child care centers here in Rochester, we want to ensure that all Minnesotan families have access to quality child care no matter their skin color, or what’s in their wallets. On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz showed his commitment to our youngest Minnesotans in his proposed 2021 budget. His administration pledged to ensure that the wealthiest Minnesotans and large corporations contribute their fair share to child care. Together, we will increase funding for centers and access for families.

During the pandemic, early childhood educators stepped up and stayed open for thousands of families across Minnesota. Our state needs us. But due to chronic underfunding, even before the pandemic, many centers have barely been able to make ends meet during the past 10 months. Fortunately, state leaders recognized the critical importance of child care in ensuring a healthy economy and provided emergency funds and flexibility in programming during the Peacetime Emergency.

The governor’s proposed funding through 2021 will allow many of us to keep our doors open and maintain the high quality of care and education we strive for and that our children require. This is also a common sense solution to helping our economy stabilize and thrive. A long-term, critical sector funding solution will allow us to pay our teachers’ more equitable wages and offer health insurance benefits so they can stay in the profession they love and develop essential long lasting ties with the children and families in our community. This funding will also allow us to afford the safety and enrichment supplies so necessary for the children’s learning environment. Cleaning supplies, Wi-Fi for our school-age children doing distance learning, and tools for our children’s brain development and motor skills, will enhance our children’s lives in profound ways.

Proposed funding in the governor’s budget will also help children on the waitlist for child care assistance for months, or even years, receive the care and education they need. The governor’s commitment to make child care more accessible to the many families who can’t afford the staggering cost supports our workers, economy and the next generation.

As Minnesotans, we help each other. Whether it’s shoveling our neighbor’s car out of a snowbank or sharing a home-cooked meal after the loss of a loved one, we are there for each other. If we all contribute our fair share, we can fund things like child care for all our families. Our governor knows it’s time to hold the richest 1 percent and large corporations, who have continued to profit during the pandemic, accountable by supporting their neighbors just like we do. He is leading us in the right direction, and we hope our local legislators share the same clarity and courage to help us pull through the pandemic together and come out thriving. Fully funding child care is our opportunity to put our children and future generation first.


Christina Valdez is the director at Listos Preschool and Childcare, Rochester; Helen White is the director at Quality Kids Care Center Inc., Rochester; Sheila Burfield is the director and teacher at Precious Is the Child Preschool, Rochester.

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Christina Valdez

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