December 1, 2023 at 12:20 p.m.

Daycare incentives may be bearing fruit


By DENISE MARTIN | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment
News

Four new Chisago County daycare licenses are fast-approaching finalization, the result of a concerted effort by the county to increase options.  

Health and Human Services Director Robert Benson reports recruiting of new childcare facilities is also a focus for the county licensor, who has seven applicants in total on deck for processing (including the four nearly complete.)

Chisago County was experiencing a shortage of daycare,  as most of the state is facing. The response was to offer some incentives and work alongside a state initiative and county HRA/EDA to boost the availability of daycare.

Benson says seven applicants have also requested the $2,000 grant which the county offers through the Collaborative Coalition.  This group held open house information sessions recently around the county, to explain Minnesota’s program and local resources and receive applications for the grant money. 

Further enhancing the daycare sector is the fact three weeks ago— an increase in payment rates for childcare assistance took effect;  which Governor Tim Walz calls an “investment in our workforce, economy and well being of families.” 

Over 11,000 families and 23,000 children are enrolled in the state Child Care Assistance Program and the goal behind increasing payments to providers is to stabilize their commercial finances and improve access to affordable childcare, according to the Governor’s office.

Low rates were holding back growth in the daycare industry and leaving families getting assistance with paying costs,  at a disadvantage.  The state rates now are based on a grid that takes into consideration the child’s age, the type of care and the county of the facility.  The new rates are increased to the 75th percentile of market rates, as measured by a 2021 survey of child care rates.  Rates can be adjusted every three years as of January 2025. 

Chisago County has 54 licensed providers, according to HHS.  Sufficient funds remain for two more $2,000 grants, if anyone is looking into going into a childcare business.

The coalition hopes to continue to organize trainings and gatherings for daycare operators to network and interact with vendors, etc.  These events are supported by grants the county applies for.  Watch for announcements.



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