As Alpha News reported last week, Governor Mark Dayton has asked for $348,000,000 to fully-fund universal all-day pre-k for Minnesota children. Alpha News spoke to Hollee Saville, owner of Happy Hollee’s Childcare and Preschool to discuss how this proposed program would affect daycare providers in Minnesota and the children they care for.

According to Hollee this proposal could detriment the providers, families, and children of Minnesota, stating, “It’s going to create a shortage of childcare for birth through three, it’s going to increase costs to taxpayers, and I’m scared it’s going to hurt children because most public preschool programs aren’t play-based, child-centered, they’re not developmentally appropriate.”

Happy Hollee’s, like many other privately-owned daycare facilities, prides themselves on having a play-based and child-directed environment, claiming that it naturally prepares children for school and life success. She cited a 2007 Stanford University Study that addresses the concerns of all-day preschool stating, “children spending longer hours or more months in center care each year exhibit greater problem behaviors, including elevated levels of aggression and less effective impulse control.”

Hollee explained that there are a number of additional issues facing private childcare providers today, claiming that over the past three years, over-regulation and a “constant push to unionize” are causing Minnesotans to lose roughly one daycare provider a day. Another issue pointed out by daycare providers is the push by legislators to require that every provider be certified under the Parent Aware Rating System. According to Hollee, there are a number of different issues that come with pushing the Parent Aware Rating System in the legislature, stating, “They’re making it very difficult for providers not to be on the system because if you want to accept families on those early learning scholarships you have to be a three or four star rated Parent Aware program. There’s only 189 family child care programs in the entire state who would meet those qualifications and a total of only 599 licensed family child care providers are actually rated by parent aware right now.”

Hollee went on to say that requiring Parent Aware Ratings to accept the proposed early learning scholarships will leave very limited options for families of small children, stating, “If they keep pushing universal pre-k and make parent aware mandatory, families who need high-quality care the most (low-income families) are going to have fewer and fewer options, thereby causing family childcare providers to have to increase their rates.”

Representative Erin Murphy of St. Paul and Senator John Hoffman are authors of this legislation in the House and Senate, accordingly. The bill failed committee in the House and was tabled in the Senate, however HF844 contains Governor Dayton’s K-12 budget proposal, which includes a version of universal all day pre-k.

Check back often as Alpha News continues to track this legislation.

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