DHS: State Child Care Assistance Payments to Resume Wednesday

November 13, 2018 07:22 PM

State payments to child care facilities are expected to resume Wednesday. 

This comes after the Department of Human Services said it had temporarily halted payments to some child care providers through the Child Care Assistance Program because of a computer issue.  

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But many families and child care centers say they still feel in the dark about everything.

"I've been waiting for some monies to come in with the state for child care expenses and I hadn't heard anything," said Mary Rasinski, with the Children's Village Montessori.

A sign alerts parents at the door of the Children's Village Montessori, informing them of the problem. It's asking parents if they can pay early.

That's because - until seeing a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS story last week on the issue - staff had no idea payments to an estimated 1,700 child care centers would be temporarily halted by the state.

"When I saw that story I was like 'Oh my gosh,'" Rasinski said. "Why aren't they telling anybody?"

The Child Care Assistance Program helps eligible families pay for child care so parents can work, go to school or look for a job. But on Nov. 6, because of a computer issue with Minnesota IT Services, DHS announced payments to some providers could be delayed up to three weeks. 

"Their answer to say 'We're just going to stop payment and hurt you, the providers, hurt the parents and the kids.' Really? I think there's a better way to do this," said Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake. 

Kiffmeyer is the chair of the committee that oversees MNIT.

"It has just got to stop, something has to change," Kiffmeyer said. 

Kiffmeyer said in just the last few years, the number of providers has dropped from about 11,500 to around 8,500.

"It's a critical need, it's a critical area so this does not help that problem at all," Kiffmeyer said. 


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Mary Rasinski with the Children's Village Montessori agrees this is a headache. 

"It's very frustrating," Rasinski said. "How do you explain to your staff - well, there's a computer glitch with the state so you can't get paid tomorrow."

Rasinski is confident they'll survive, and she just hopes the state agencies get their act together. 

"The fact that they had problems with the driver's licenses and now it's with childcare, what's next?" Rasinski said. 

DHS said they didn't reach out to those affected because they don't have a direct way to contact child care providers. Instead, that was up to county and tribal agencies to relay the information if they were asked about it.

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Brett Hoffland

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