AP NEWS

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation tackles child care

February 27, 2019

Five Southern Minnesota communities have been selected for a new program intended to address the regional child care shortage.

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will work with each community to address what its research shows as a potential need for 8,919 licensed child care slots throughout the 20 counties of southern Minnesota.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to the child care shortage,” said Teri Steckelberg, the foundation’s early childhood director. “We look forward to sitting down with each core team to develop a plan that is best suited for their unique needs.”

The communities selected are Austin, Albert Lea, Eagle Lake, Watonwan County and Wells.

The foundation reports selections were based on shortage numbers, community readiness and core team participation. Representatives from a variety of sectors will be involved in a core team throughout this process, ranging from city and county economic development staff, employers, elected officials, child care providers, chamber of commerce leaders and more.

Each community will work with the foundation for six to 18 months to develop individualized action plans to address local child care needs.

After completing the process, the communities will become eligible for competitive grants of up to $10,000 to support the implementation of their plans.