Minnesota Department of Social Services awards $3 million in grants to child care providers

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Minnesota Department of Social Services (DHS) is awarding nearly $3 million in grants to child care providers across the state. The funds come from the federal government’s COVID relief program.

18 providers across the state are receiving between $150,000 and $180,000 to fund new training programs.

The grants are for smaller, in-house child care centers that DHS calls Family, Friends and Neighbors Child Care.

“Maybe they are neighbors. These can be providers who can really help support families many of whom work night shifts and so you can’t go the traditional route,” said Tikki Brown, assistant commissioner for children and family services at the DHS.

DHS says that most of the time, in-house child care providers don’t have the same access to training and resources as traditional child care centers.

“We really wanted to focus those funds on vendors that are a lot a little bit more isolated or maybe don’t have a network of other vendors that they can rely on,” Brown said.

So the state is working with those that provide resources to smaller child care providers, like Families First in Rochester.

“All they need to do a good job of helping these kids,” said Families First Minnesota Executive Director Jon Losness.

Industry leaders say the pandemic has created many challenges for families and their providers.

“It has left a lot of childcare providers in short supply. They need help. They can’t find it. It sends more parents to look at things like families, friends and neighbors, Losness said.

“When we need people to work in vital jobs, emergency services, nurses, doctors. We need child care to be there without a break,” Brown said.

Families First currently works with more than 100 family, friendly and neighborhood child care centers in the Rochester area and plans to use the funds to help train these providers.

“They help educate that child so they’re ready to go into public schools and in many cases that could be learning English, learning social/emotional skills,” said Losness.

Losness says her company is already using the grant. Families First has hired a new employee who is already helping small child care providers train for the job.

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