Lydia Pietruszewski started Pine Pals Intergenerational Learning Child Care and Preschool in Bemidji, Minn., 20 years ago after she and her co-founder and co-director toured other child care centers.
"Isn't it mind-blowing that a profession that continuously strives to learn and apply best practices in early care to give children the best start possible isn't more valued?" she asks in an op-ed for the Bemidji Pioneer.
"It's unconscionable and unsustainable."
That's why Pietruszewski and her co-founder have been pushing for a living wage for child care workers, as well as more funding for child care.
This year, the Minnesota legislature made "historic investments" in child care and early learning, Pietruszewski writes, but they're not enough.
"We can do better," she writes.
"There is no existing business model for child care centers where families can afford to pay as much as is necessary to pay teachers what they deserve."
And tuition comes from private pay for families who can afford it and assisted pay for families who qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program and/or Early Learning Scholarships.
"Sadly, a business model that starts with paying teachers a competitive, livable wage and charges the