I am writing to correct the mischaracterization of my position on family child care licensing standards, as reported Nov. 1 in the article “Caring for children: County child care providers gather to oppose possible rule change by the state.”
The story correctly identifies a problem of great concern – an increase in the number of infant deaths in child care, most involving unsafe sleep practices in family child care homes. To learn more about the underlying factors, I asked our Child Mortality Review Panel to study the issue and make recommendations. This work culminated in a report issued in September. The report’s recommendations are just that – recommendations to me, not by me. While I am grateful for the group’s thoughtful look at this difficult issue, I have not endorsed any specific recommendation at this time. Rather, I consider these recommendations a starting point for dialogue with legislators, communities and especially, parents and family child care providers. I recognize there is a balance that must be struck on issues such as caregiver ratios and staff requirements or we will correct one set of problems only to create others. We can only achieve that balance if we look at this issue together.
Toward that end, we are convening a series of stakeholder meetings on family child care issues to hear what provide and others think about these issues.
The first will be Thursday, Nov. 29, at 9 a.m. at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building, 540 Cedar St. in St. Paul; additional meetings are being planned in other areas of the state. I encourage input to help ensure Minnesota continues to have quality, affordable child care.
Commissioner Lucinda Jesson
Minnesota Department of Human Services