Governor announces additional money for emergency child care grants

On July 7, Gov. Walz announced that he will allocate an additional $56.6 million from the state’s COVID-19 Relief Fund for emergency child care grants. These grants will support child care providers facing increased costs and decreased revenues due to the pandemic.

Eligible providers will receive a grant paid out over three months to help with the costs associated with adhering to the public health guidance. Family care providers will receive up to $1,200 per month and licensed child care centers will receive up to $8,500 per month. Grant awards will be scaled based on the number of eligible applicants. Eligibility criteria include:

  • Providers must have been open and caring for children as of June 15 and through the duration of the three-month grant period,
  • Demonstrate revenue losses or increased cost associated with COVID-19,
  • Provider must be providing financial incentives for working staff, and
  • Provider must have a license in good standing.

These grants follow $40 million in grants that were awarded to providers in April through June to ensure access to child care for health care and essential workers in the early days of the pandemic. In this first grant program, 53% of funding went to providers in Greater Minnesota.

This investment comes at a critical time for Greater Minnesota, as evidenced by a new report and research tool release by the University of Minnesota. The new tool, which maps child care access, shows a significant shortage in Greater Minnesota, especially in rural areas.

In an article on the release of the report, Northland Foundation’s president Tony Sertich commented, “… as you see on the map … the more rural you are, the harder the issue becomes.” He compared child care in Greater Minnesota to “trying to fill up a bucket with water that has holes in the bottom.”

In our communities, new child care options are opening, but at a slower rate than existing providers are leaving the market. Providers choose to leave the marketplace for a multitude of reasons, but as Sertich commented, “For many people in the child care business (and for people who work for them), they could make more money … at some of the service jobs in our community, with potentially better hours and less stress.”