ST. CLOUD -- Childcare and early education were a topic of discussion for Minnesota lawmakers on Friday afternoon.

The Minnesota Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division and the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division committees held a joint meeting at the St. Cloud Public Library.

The public hearing invited lawmakers to hear issues surrounding early childhood education and childcare in St. Cloud and central MN. Representative Dan Wolgamott says it was important to bring these lawmakers to the area.

It’s a constant struggle to balance work needs and family needs, and I know a lot of our neighbors and a lot of my constituents are facing the same squeeze. So, I invited the committees to come here today so that we can build a bridge between the legislature and the community on how to tackle this crisis.

Following presentations and statistics from local experts, the committees heard public testimony. Wolgamott says he hopes the committees take the testimonies to heart.

I hope that they will focus on the workforce issues. It was pretty alarming to me the statistics we heard about how underpaid our childcare providers are.

Some concerns brought up at the hearing included low wages, high turnover, and a shortage of services in pre-school and childcare options.