ST. PAUL, MN – Grants totaling $500,000 were awarded to eight groups that will work to increase the number of child care providers in their Greater Minnesota communities.
The funding was awarded under the Greater Minnesota Childcare Grants Program, which was created by the Minnesota Legislature last year to increase child care services in order to support regional economic development. The program will be managed by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
“Affordable, excellent child care is a building block for economic opportunity,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Without excellent, affordable child care, working parents can’t work, student parents can’t finish school, and parents adding to their job skills can’t get ahead. Children need excellent, affordable early education too, so they can be ready for school. These grants will create options and opportunities for families.”
Grant funds must be used to implement solutions to reduce the child care shortage in the state. Examples include funding for child care business start-up or expansion, training, facility modifications or improvements required for licensing, and assistance with licensing and other regulatory requirements.
“The shortage of quality, affordable child care in Minnesota is having a ripple effect across the state, affecting families, employers, economies and communities,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “This funding will increase child care options in Greater Minnesota communities that have a demonstrated shortage of providers.”
A report by the Mankato-based Center for Rural Policy and Development last year called the shortage of child care in Minnesota “a quiet crisis.” According to the report, in-home family child care providers are leaving the field at a high rate in Minnesota because they aren’t making enough money to stay in business. The number of licensed in-home family child care providers decreased by 27% across the state between 2006 and 2015, the report said.
Fifteen proposals were submitted to DEED, with a total of $1.3 million requested. The following groups were approved for funding for proposed child care projects:
• Northland Foundation, Duluth, $125,000
• West Central Initiative, Fergus Falls, $50,000
• Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Crookston, $51,500
• Lake of the Woods Economic Development Authority, Baudette, $31,000
• Southwest Initiative, Hutchinson, $110,000
• Lakes and Pines Community Action Council Inc., Mora, $110,000
• United Way New Ulm, New Ulm, $21,000
• Lake Crystal School District, Lake Crystal, $1,500
DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the DEED website http://mn.gov/deed/ or follow DEED on Twitter.