Over the last few years, childcare services in Chippewa County have dwindled, creating a lack of care opportunities for households.

 

Over the last few years, childcare services in Chippewa County have dwindled, creating a lack of care opportunities for households. However, it is not just Chippewa County having a shortage; Minnesota is in a childcare crisis.

According to the state of Minnesota, between the years of 2006 and 2015, the number of licensed in-home family childcare providers decreased by more than one-quarter (27%) across the state. In terms of capacity, that’s a loss of about 36,500 spaces.

Contrary to in-home pro­viders, in that same 10 year span, the number of childcare centers increased by 8% and their capacity grew by 27% statewide. But even with the slight growth in care centers, all regions of the state show a shortfall between the number of people needing childcare and number of spaces available.

Chippewa County is currently taking steps to try and change that. There are 29 daycare providers in the county at this time; 19 in Montevideo, eight in Clara City and two in Granite Falls.

According to BreeAnn Bothun of Chippewa County Family Services, the county has tried things such as recruitment events for potential pro­viders, reducing the cost of fees to become licensed, offering low cost training, and offering grant funding to combat the shortage.

“The two most common problems that potential providers run into is when it comes to passing the background check and passing the Fire Marshall inspection,” said Bothun.

The county also offers daycare assistance for families who cannot afford to pay for daytime childcare, and anyone who needs some extra help is welcome to apply through Family Services.

“We are still looking for providers, and if it’s something that interests you let us know!” said Bothun.

If you are interested in becoming a daycare provider, you can contact Family Services at (320) 269-6401, and ask for Bree Bothun.

The lack of childcare providers in the area has also affected the school district.

“The lack of childcare in the area makes it difficult to hire people. When we’re hiring someone with children, they need daycare. And when they aren’t able to get it, we can’t hire them. There is a shrinking hiring pool,” said Bruce Bergeson, principal of Montevideo Senior High School.

“To address the lack of childcare, the district has after-school childcare, we have expanded preschool programs, and we have infant care through Community Ed. We’re doing more to address the issue than most school districts,” said Bergeson.

There are multiple reasons as to why it’s becoming more difficult to find childcare, and that creates frustration for both families and employers. But with more awareness, it may be possible to change that.

Next week we look at how families and childcare providers themselves are affected by the crisis.

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