Aitkin County among 17 Minn. communities to receive funding for affordable child care – Brainerd Dispatch


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

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

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

“In every community across the state, we hear from families and small businesses that increasing access to affordable child care is the best way to support our workforce, grow our economy, and foster economic prosperity,” Walz said in a news release. “These grants reach communities across our state to help increase child care access and ensure families and our youngest Minnesotans receive the care and early education they deserve.”

“We continue to hear that a lack of quality child care is one of the major hurdles preventing the growth of our workforce,” Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said in the release. “This grant program has a direct effect on creating more child care slots for parents across Minnesota. That’s why the Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion recommended increasing this funding as a key strategy in growing our state’s economy and workforce.”

The community organizations receiving the grants will use a variety of approaches ranging from partnering with local employers to build new child care facilities, to training and assistance with licensing. These projects will help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care in Minnesota, the release stated.

Program funds will be used for child care business startups or expansions, training, facility modifications, direct subsidies or incentives to retain employees, or improvements required for licensing, and assistance with licensing and other regulatory requirements. Priority was given to communities with a documented shortage of child care providers in their proposed project area. The definition of documented shortages may include disparities in access to affordable, quality child care among targeted groups including but not limited to rural communities, low-income communities, Black, Indigenous and people of color individuals, persons with disabilities, veterans, and women.

Other groups receiving funding were the Chinese 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.; Jasmin Child Care 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 in 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 child care across Minnesota. In total, the funding is expected to create 9,431 new child care slots across the state.

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