Aitkin County is among 17 Minnesota communities to receive funding for affordable child care – Brainerd Dispatch

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday, December 1, that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is awarding nearly $2.5 million to 17 child care organizations representing communities across Minnesota.

This latest round of grant funding will help increase the supply of quality childcare providers to support regional economic development.

Locally, Aitkin County will receive $100,000 from the Department of Employment and Economic Development to improve access to affordable child care.

“In every community across the state, we’re hearing from families and small businesses that increasing access to affordable childcare is the best way to support our workforce, boost our economy and promote economic prosperity,” Walz said in a press release. “These grants reach communities across our state to increase access to childcare and ensure families and our youngest Minnesotans receive the care and early education they deserve.”

“We hear time and time again that a lack of quality childcare is one of the biggest hurdles preventing our workforce from growing,” Steve Grove, Commissioner for Employment and Economic Development, said in the press release. “This grant program has a direct impact on creating more child care places for parents across Minnesota. For this reason, the Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion has recommended increasing these funds as a key strategy for growing our state’s economy and workforce.”

The community organizations receiving the grants will take a variety of approaches, ranging from partnerships with local employers to build new childcare facilities, to training and licensing assistance. These projects will help expand the supply of affordable, quality child care in Minnesota, the press release said.

Program funds are used for the creation or expansion of childcare businesses, training, facility remodeling, direct subsidies or incentives for employee retention or improvements required for licensing, as well as assisting with licensing and other regulatory requirements. Priority was given to communities with a documented lack of childcare providers in their proposed project area. The definition of documented shortage can include differences in access to affordable, quality childcare among target groups, including but not limited to rural communities, low-income communities, Black, Indigenous and People of Color, people with disabilities, veterans and women.

Other groups that received funding were the Sino-American Chamber of Commerce in Bloomington; city ​​of hills; Cook County and Grand Marais EDA; Duluth Area Family YMCA, Duluth; Faith Community Development Initiative Inc. in Brooklyn Park; Greater Bemidji Inc.; Jasmine Childcare and Preschool in Moorhead, $120,000; Kandiyohi County and the City of Willmar; Morning Glory Montessori in Minneapolis; Nobles County Community Service Agency in Worthington; Northland Foundation in Duluth; Northwest Minnesota Foundation at Bemidji; Otter Tail County; Somali Community Resettlement Services in Minneapolis; Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation in Owatonna; and WildFlower Foundation in Minneapolis.

Since 2017, DEED has awarded more than $4 million to Minnesota organizations focused on increasing access to affordable, quality childcare across Minnesota. A total of 9,431 new childcare places are to be created nationwide through the funding.


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