Can we fix child care?

A childcare worker plays with two children on a slide.
Child care worker Stella Hewett plays with two children on the slide at Catholic Charities Northside Child Development Center in Minneapolis on Feb. 5.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

The business of child care has operated in a strained market for years — low wages for workers and high costs for parents. 

Now, the pandemic is showing just how vital and fragile our child care system is.

Early in the pandemic, providers were hit hard by big changes in employment. Furloughs and remote work led many families to pull children out of care, along with their dollars. The financial strain on child care providers is far from over. Home day cares continue to close. Centers are having trouble paying enough to keep workers.

A lack of reliable and affordable care limits what jobs people can take and may be holding back the recovery of the entire economy.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

The social policy bill being pushed by President Joe Biden would provide unprecedented public dollars to support child care. But, there’s also concern about who would administer the funds and who would get the money. 

Host Angela Davis checks in on the business and future of child care with providers and a consultant who works with child care entrepreneurs. 


  • Suzanne Pearl is Minnesota director of First Children’s Finance, a nonprofit organization that provides loans and development assistance to child care businesses. 

  • Cyndi Cunningham is a family child care provider in St. Paul and public policy chair of the Minnesota Child Care Provider Information Network, which supports the profession of licensed family child care.

  • Chad Dunkley is CEO of New Horizon Academy, a private child care business with over 90 locations in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa and Idaho. He’s also president of the Minnesota Childcare Association, a group that represents child care centers in the state. 

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Angela Davis podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or RSS.