An early childhood memory was riding with dad when he delivered sweet corn from our garden to migrant farm workers who were living temporarily in our town stockyards. It must have been the fall of 1942 and I can still see the small groups of ragged men huddled around boiling pots over open fires. 

As we left the grateful gathering, dad told me a story about his dad, my grandpa Halvor, who died two years before I was born. Dad said one of grandpa’s favorite sayings was, “there is no shame in being poor, but it sure is inconvenient.” Halvor was speaking from experience because he raised 22 children during hard times.

My family and most I know have fared better, but poor families continue to struggle. Recent Minnesota policy has seen cuts in medical assistance eligibility, an 82% increase in U on Minnesota tuition since 2001 and drastic cuts in support for child care, a critical need for families trying to survive on low paying jobs.

Right now there are THOUSANDs of qualifying families for state child care aid but they can’t get it because there is no money.

For those who care about kids this is an opportunity to do something.

Minnesota can speak up for children, who through no fault of their own, are ‘inconvenienced by poverty’. You can call your representative and senator and tell them to find money to pay for child care for the families who by policy deserve it, but can’t get it because there is no money.

Funding child care policies saves taxpayer’s money. Art Rolnick, head of research at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve has proof. A republican, Rolnick calculates that investing in early child care will return at least 17% annual compounded savings (after inflation) in downstream society costs.

Art’s calculations are conservative. By including the very real costs of crime, problems at risk children have in our schools and high costs within our health care systems, 17% may be just a fraction of what it costs our community to abandon poor children.

More importantly, supporting day care for disadvantaged children is the right thing to do for all Minnesota’s kids.

In a public meeting at Hamline, Rolnick lamented that this ‘no brainer’ idea is overshadowed at the Capitol by wasteful sports stadiums (and cries for lower taxes*).

More of us need to raise our voices for children if there is going to be a change in public policy toward the weakest and most vulnerable among us (children have no voice but ours in this political system).
* authors words