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Committee OKs $4 million toward Greater MN child care needs

Greater Minnesota needs 39,000 additional child care spots and a 52% growth in licensed child care facilities to fill that shortfall, the House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee was told Monday.

“We know child care is essential to the economic recovery in our rural communities,” said Diana Anderson, president and CEO of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, one of six foundations operating in 14 counties in Greater Minnesota.

HF413 would make a onetime $4 million appropriation in fiscal year 2022 from the General Fund for a grant to the Minnesota Initiative Foundation to support programs in rural communities to sustain and increase the supply of quality child care.

The committee approved the bill 11-0 and sent it to the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. There is no Senate companion.

Anderson said she hears from rural employers all the time that job openings go unfilled because workers cannot find adequate child care that would allow them to accept a position.

With the expansion of child care opportunities this bill would bring about, “our families no longer have to decide whether to work, or where to work, based on the availability of child care,” said Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth), the bill sponsor.

The bill would mandate the Minnesota Initiative Foundation use the $4 million to:

  • facilitate community-based solutions that guide decision making to sustain and increase the supply of quality child care in the region supporting economic development;
  • engage the private sector to invest local resources to support quality child care;
  • provide locally based training and technical assistance to rural child care business owners; and
  • provide low-cost training, professional development opportunities, and continuing education curricula to local partners.

The 2019 omnibus jobs and economic development finance law appropriated $750,000 in fiscal year 2020 to the Minnesota Initiative Foundation for these same purposes.

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