Otter Tail County, MN – Otter Tail County was awarded a $160,000 Child Care Economic Development Grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN DEED) Office of Small Business Partnerships. The grant funding, along with additional County dollars, will be used to support new and expanding child care providers through local sub-grants and existing providers through mentorship and technical assistance. This support will make a substantial impact, increasing the supply of child care by nearly 200 slots and making child care providers more resilient in the operations of their businesses.
Otter Tail County understands that access to quality and affordable child care is needed for people to live and work in our region. Employers in the region regularly share that access to child care is a barrier to finding needed workers.
Patti Fandrich, Human Resources Director at PioneerCare in Fergus Falls, adds that employers have high stakes in the business of child care because it’s important to their employees. Seeing the need of its employees, PioneerCare opened PioneerKids in September 2022, providing on-site child care for its employees and community members. Fandrich said, “Lacking access to child care has kept some PioneerCare employees from doing the work they love. Once we opened our own on-site child care, PioneerKids filled immediately and began serving ten working families previously challenged by the shortage of providers.” More projects like PioneerKids will be supported by the Child Care Economic Development Grant.
Otter Tail County Commissioner and Community Development Agency Board Member, Kurt Mortenson, shared his gratitude and excitement at the announcement. “We are very appreciative to the State of Minnesota for awarding Otter Tail County this $160,000 grant. We’ll leverage local funds with this grant award to make important investments in our child care infrastructure and add nearly 200 child care slots. Expanded access to child care means more caregivers can participate in the workforce and help meet the employment needs of local businesses.”
MN DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency. Nearly $2.5 million in Child Care Economic Development Grant funds were awarded to 17 organizations representing communities throughout Minnesota. 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 assistance with licensing.