We Need Your Help – Stop Changes to Essential Worker Child Care


Last week on August 27th, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) revised their guidance on school-provided child care for Tier 1 Essential Workers. This revision will likely have a big impact on the disability services sector, on Direct Support Professionals, on Personal Care Assistants, and on the families who rely on them.

In Governor Walz’s previous Emergency Executive Orders, as stated in Executive Order 20-19, signed on March 25, 2020, and in Executive Order 20-82, signed on July 30, 2020:

  • “As provided in MDE guidance, care for school-aged children of certain workers in critical sectors (‘Eligible Children’) must continue during the implementation of distance and hybrid learning models.”
  • School districts or charter schools that operate hybrid or distance learning models “must provide school-aged care for Eligible Children at no cost during the time those children are not receiving instruction in the school building during regular school hours.”


Minnesota Department of Education Revisions

The revisions put out last week by MDE can be found by visiting: https://bit.ly/2EQknOF  They state the following:

  • Page 14: “The school-age care for children of critical workers is intended for extreme circumstances in which no parent or guardian is at home, due to employment as a critical worker.
  • [ADDED 08/27/20]: “If it is a two-parent household and one is not a critical worker, a school is not required to provide free school-age care to the family, but the school could choose to provide the care, if they have the capacity to do so while ensuring health and safety requirements can still be met.

Lifeworks understands the enormous impact this could have on our staff, support professionals, and the families we serve. People providing critical support to individuals with disabilities in remote and community settings need access to school-aged care as the Governor outlined in July – regardless of the employment situation of a spouse or partner. The new MDE guidelines place individuals with disabilities and their families at a disadvantage.

This new guidance may mean that support professionals – who already face a workforce shortage – will likely have to make the impossible choice between providing care for the people with disabilities they support, or providing care for their own family and children.

Multiple member organizations that Lifeworks is a part of – MOHR and ARRM – have already sent a letter to MDE Commissioner Ricker asking that she reverse this policy change immediately. But that may not be enough to reverse this change. Impacted workers, families, and support professionals need to voice their concerns to the MN Department of Education as well.


Action Alert: Here’s What You Can Do to Make Your Voice Heard

1.   Email the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and tell them how this change will negatively impact your family.

2. Send the email to MDE, with the subject line “Stop Changes to Essential Worker Child Care.”

3. You may also want to reach out to the Office of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor (who work closely with the MDE Commissioner) at 651-201-3400.

Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you. Thank you for your advocacy!