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Communities Come Together to Address Child Care Shortages

August 07, 2018 07:30 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Nearly 100 people representing almost a dozen communities in southern Minnesota came together in Rochester on Tuesday to discuss a growing problem.

“The child care crisis is kind of coming to a peak,” said Rae Jean Hansen, the vice-president of Early Childhood for Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).

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SMIF, Families First of Minnesota and First Children's Finance and teamed up to bring the regional meeting to Rochester, where the organizations presented solutions to community leaders. 

“We are talking about opportunities to leverage space that already exists in communities around the region,” said Jeff Andrews, the Business Development Manager of First Children’s Finance. “In some cases that might be partnerships with faith communities.”

Like the Christ United Methodist Church in Rochester, for example. The church basement is being remodeled so it can provide care to more than 80 children starting in September.

Other recent child care center openings has pushed down the number of children unable to get a spot with a licensed provider in Olmsted County. The number has dropped by nearly 800 within the last year, according to a First Children’s Finance study.

However, when we look at southern Minnesota as a whole ...

“There is a shortage of over 8,000 slots in the 20-county region that makes up Southern Minnesota Foundation Initiative,” said Andrews.

In places like St. Charles … “We are short 89 spots for kids,” said Heather Millard, the early childhood program coordinator in St. Charles.

“We hope to find strategies on how to cope with this,” said Nick Koverman, the city administrator of St. Charles. “Because if we can't do this as a community, maybe we need to do this regionally.”

The plan is to keep chipping away at the shortage as a region.

“We are going to continue to partner with one another to build capacity across our 20 counties and to continue to encourage investment in early child hood,” said Elizabeth Mangan, the program director of Child Care Aware for Families First in Rochester.

Credits

Hannah Tiede

Copyright 2018 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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