Before COVID-19, access to child care was the fastest growing economic development issue in southwest Minnesota. Family- and center-based providers were facing a severe shortage of licensed child care spots for children, and not enough licensed providers were getting into and staying in the industry.
Minnesota’s stay- at-home executive order was issued to slow the speed and spread of COVID-19 and give our healthcare systems more time to prepare and keep us safe. This public health decision had an immediate effect on our economy, businesses and family situations, too.
Child care providers had children pulled out of their care due to health concerns or parents being laid off, creating lost revenue. But, providers caring for the children of emergency and essential workers needed to stay open, as well as purchase more cleaning and personal care supplies. It felt like child care providers suddenly faced a one-two punch.
The six Minnesota Initiative Foundations, including Southwest Initiative Foundation quickly formed a plan to help provide immediate relief to Greater Minnesota providers caring for the young kids of emergency and essential personnel. The Emergency Child Care Grant program was launched March 26 with dollars going out the door over the two weeks that followed. The intent was to get immediate financial support to providers while state and federal relief programs could get up and running.
The result: Here in southwest Minnesota, 520 child care providers, including 490 family-based and 30 centers, received $452,000.
To qualify, the providers must be caring for the children (ages birth to 5-years-old) of parents or guardians who are working in government-identified critical sectors and are exempt during this time from the stay at home order. Southwest Minnesota providers who received grants are caring for more than 4,500 kids of emergency/essential workers
“We know there is still a great need for both short- and long-term community child care solutions,” said Jodi Maertens, Southwest Initiative Foundation Youth and Family Officer. “We’ve been working hard for several years to leverage dollars and create and retain nearly 1,000 child care slots in southwest Minnesota. I am so pleased that through the generosity of others, we could award these emergency grants.
We’re committed to continue doing all we can to ensure child care providers are here as families need them, both today during crisis and ahead when more families return to work and need child care.”
Southwest Initiative Foundation secured multiple resources to award emergency child care grants. It started with a $100,000 grant from the Minnesota Council on Foundation’s Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund for Coronavirus.
Generous individuals, businesses and organizations answered our call for help, too, raising more than $60,000 to date. We are grateful our partners were quick to understand the urgent need and take action that made an immediate impact. A number of our local affiliates made contributions to support providers located in their community, which allowed us to fund even more child care providers. They include:
- Appleton Community Foundation
- Benson Area Community Foundation
- Clara City Area Community Foundation
- Dawson Community Foundation
- Granite Falls Area Community Foundation
- Heron Lake-Okabena Community Foundation
- Lake Benton Area Foundation
- Litchfield Area Community Foundation
- Madison Community Foundation
- Tyler Area Community Foundation
- Worthington Area Foundation
Together, our team re-allocated budget dollars to fund all qualifying applications received in southwest Minnesota. Across the state, the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations supported more than 1,500 providers with nearly $1.4 million dollars.
THANK YOU to all who have supported our child care providers and southwest Minnesota businesses during this time.
THANK YOU to child care providers and all who continue working to keep our communities safe.
THANK YOU to all Minnesotans for following guidelines that are helping our healthcare providers prepare and work to keep us as healthy as possible.
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