New Initiative Aims To Improve Access To Quality And Affordable Child Care
A new partnership between the Initiative Foundation, First Children’s Finance, and the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services is aiming to improve access to quality and affordable child care in Central Minnesota.
First Children’s Finance estimates that nearly 14,000 Central Minnesota children and their families lack child care opportunities. This inhibits the development of children and also causes many families to be disengaged from the workforce.
“Child care is a huge barrier to workforce engagement. If you can’t find good, affordable child care it’s very hard to hold down a job, and our region in Central Minnesota has a greater shortage of affordable child care than any other section of Greater Minnesota,” said Don Hickman, Initiative Foundation Vice President for Community and Nonprofit Organizational Development.
A $150,000 Department of Human Services grant will allow the Initiative Foundation to launch a pilot program for up to four Central Minnesota communities that will focus on child care solutions. Community leaders will be able to create and enter a strategic plan detailing how their community would benefit from and implement the grant.
“The grant is going to be used as a challenge for up to four communities. We’ll announce a competitive process here shortly and the goal is to have four communities complete a strategic plan. What are the assets and what are the barriers? How can we help current providers, encourage new providers and even retain those that we have?” explained Hickman.
Community leaders can learn more about the program by visiting the Initiative Foundation’s website at ifound.org. They hope to have the communities chosen and awarded by the spring.