The Legislature passed nearly $30 million for emergency childcare grants for programs who can prioritize space for emergency workers and are being strained by enrollment fluctuations and increased operating costs due to COVID-19. The goal is to distribute these funds equitably across the state and among providers based on the local need for childcare services during the peacetime emergency and whether the provider would be financially at risk without receiving a grant through this program.
All grant recipients are eligible to receive a monthly award of $4,500. Programs that serve children during nonstandard hours, children whose first language is not English, and/or children with special needs are eligible for an additional $1,000 per month. Programs can receive up to an additional $15,500 per month if they are licensed to serve 15 or more children, with their total grant amount being based upon their capacity to serve children during the peacetime emergency.
There is more work to do to stabilize Minnesota’s childcare industry. Even before this pandemic, Minnesota has been facing a shortage of available and affordable childcare, especially in Greater MN where there has been a significant loss of providers in recent years. Senate DFLers are committed identifying other relief efforts that will be required as this pandemic evolves, and we will ensure providers get the support they need to stay in business.
We know that childcare is a critical support for our families and communities both in daily life and in times of crisis. Childcare programs need our support now more than ever as they face significant losses in revenue from families withdrawing their children as they are now working from home or have been laid off from their jobs. On top of this, programs are seeing increased costs due to staffing needs and adaptations to meet new public health recommendations. This funding is a first step to make sure that providers are supported during this crisis and essential workers can find safe, reliable care for their children. (HF 4531)
Resources for families:
- Emergency workers with children should call 1-888-291-9811 to be directed to available providers.
- Visit https://mn.gov/childcare/ for updated information for families and providers, including a map of childcare options for emergency workers.
- Call the State Emergency Operations Center hotline for questions related to businesses, school closing and child care, open from 7am-7pm: 651-297-1304 or toll-free at 800-657-3504.
Resources for child care providers:
- Visit the Department of Health’s website for health and safety guidance.
- Visit https://mn.gov/childcare/ for updated information from state agencies and public health guidance.
- Call the Department of Human Services child care provider hotline with further questions:
- The six Minnesota Initiative Foundations have
created an Emergency Child Care Grant program to support licensed child care
providers in Greater Minnesota, find more information here.
- Think Small MN will be providing a similar grant opportunity to providers within the seven-county metropolitan area. Contact Think Small for more information.
Resources for employers:
- Employers are encouraged to consider purchasing care from existing providers or encouraging employees to pay for care through available providers before attempting to stand up temporary child care. Available providers can be found here: https://mn.gov/childcare/
- See Governor Walz’s letter to employers regarding child care for more information.