The Ramsey County judge presiding over government shutdown appeals ruling today that reinstates child care assistance payments for thousands of working, low-income families. Advocates had argued that these payments are essential to keeping child care facilities open and allowing families to be able to go to work.
Judge Kathleen Gearin's ruling reinstates government funding for the basic sliding fee program, which provides variable child care assistance to working families based on their income and ability to pay. The program supported 9,483 families per month, on average in 2010.
The shutdown had not disrupted payments through the Minnesota Family Investment Program, which subsidized child care for families trying to get off state welfare and maintain steady jobs.
The ruling continued to assert that the basic sliding fee program isn't an essential government service. However, the special master accepted the argument from the Minnesota Department of Human Services that it would be a "functional impossibility" to separate out the federal grant money for the MFIP, which is continuing, and the sliding fee child care programs.
As a result, the department would either have to fund both programs or neither, the ruling stated. Given the court's earlier ruling that funding for the federally supported MFIP program must continue, the court agreed that the better course would be to fund both programs rather than none at all.
Based on a shutdown special master's ruling, the judge also denied a request for funding for Migrant Day Care and Migrant Day Care grants. Those grants are not connected to the welfare program and therefore cannot be funded, although the special master invited advocates for those funds to remake their case based on other arguments.
In addition, Gearin's order also leaves in place funding for some food assistance programs, as well as programs providing child protection, child welfare and adoption grants.
Among other programs that will receive continued funding are those that involve transitional housing grants and services provided to homeless Minnesotans. Services provided for senior citizens and AIDS patients also will continue to receive money.
Not funded: programs that pay for child abuse and neglect prevention services, as well as parent outreach programs in those areas.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Bob Von Sternberg contributed to this post.