Like many areas of Minnesota, Kandiyohi County is experiencing a lack of quality childcare. A study completed by First Children’s Finance in 2018 revealed a current shortage of childcare access for at least 775 children in Kandiyohi County. The areas with the most need include Spicer, New London and Willmar. The survey identified challenges of providing childcare services, quality, regulation, high costs and low availability, high demand of infant care and diversity of care needed as some of the factors contributing to the current childcare shortage.
With the potential for regional economic growth to be impacted by the lack of access to quality childcare education, the EDC and United Community Action Partnership teamed up to lead the project. A core group of 20 people representing business, government, social services, childcare providers and advocates, economic development, elected officials and more worked to secure technical assistance to seek local solutions to address the issue. A grant, awarded by First Children’s Finance, was used to provide the technical assistance needed to create a community engagement process.
The Kandiyohi County Rural Child Care Innovation Program was adopted and began to meet regularly starting in spring 2018. The innovative program conducted focus groups and community conversations in order to gather a full picture of the issues.
Project teams have been formed and currently work is being conducted to create a community solution action plan. Implementation of some of the plans has already begun, and more will take place in the next 18 months.
In addition to a significant amount of networking with interested parties, the teams have reached many desirable outcomes thus far. Progress includes:
- Plans for a YMCA addition of 90 childcare spaces in Spicer, MN
- Plans for the possibility of educational classes to more rapidly certify individuals to become providers
- Plans for a possible infant and toddler childcare center
- Plans for a Somali-owned/operated childcare center for up to 90 children
- Securing lender interest in financing childcare operations
- Securing state and donor funds to support childcare capital projects, educational series and new certification measure
- Creation of a possible childcare center in New London, MN
Keep posted as more action steps are rolled out by the Kandiyohi County Rural Childcare Innovation Program.