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Largest-ever round of child care grants opens in Minnesota

A young child paints at a table.
Evgeni Tcherkasski|Pixabay
A young child paints at a table.

The grants are designed to create new child care slots to reduce the shortage felt across the state.

ST. PAUL — The largest-ever round of child care economic development grants is now open to support creating new slots available to working families.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said the funding can be used to invest in new or expanding child care businesses. This includes facility improvements, worker training, attraction and retention and licensing.

The $6 million in grants will be available to local governments, businesses and nonprofits.

Minnesota communities or organizations interested in submitting a grant proposal are invited to an informational meeting at 11 a.m. on Feb. 8.

According to DEED, the grants have helped create up to 9,300 child care slots since 2017.

But shortages remain an issue in the state, particularly in rural areas where the lack of affordable child care can have a significant impact on a community’s ability to attract employers and workers alike.

"DEED's Office of Child Care Community Partnerships elevates the visibility of child care as an economic and workforce development issue, and our team is excited by this new opportunity for strengthened partnership within community," said Erin Bailey, executive director of the Governor's Children's Cabinet.

"This new office brings unique expertise and value to the other interagency child care and early education efforts already in place."

Between 2000 and 2020, Greater Minnesota lost more than 20,000 child care slots.

Northeastern and northwestern Minnesota saw the largest capacity decline during that time. Local leaders noted a steeper decline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state agency is also launching a new office to oversee child care community partnerships to coordinate state agencies and offices overseeing and funding child care.