Leadership, regulations and community planning play a critical role in the conversation around child care. Your unique position allows this conversation to reach all members of the community. Do your zoning code and city ordinances allow for flexibility to support innovative solutions for child care that our rural communities need?
What can we do to help?
Facilitate Local Conversations
Bring together local business owners, HR directors, city officials, decision makers, child care providers, parents, etc. to talk about what is going right, what needs improvement and where additional assistance is needed for child care in your community. Every community’s needs are different, and by bringing people together you’ll begin to uncover what will work best locally.
Educate: Child Care is Economic Development
The decision to find care for young children and work outside the home doesn’t just affect families. It also impacts businesses and communities. Once people realize the economic impact it may have on them, their community or business, they can better understand the child care shortage and be part of the solution.
Connect to Resources
Connect providers with resources to help them begin the process of opening, sustaining or expanding their child care business. Other stakeholders such as community organizations, faith-based organizations, employers or community members may also have interests in learning about their role in the conversation; offer to help connect all types of requests to the appropriate resource.
Financing and Technical Assistance
Offer flexible, creative financing and technical assistance to support the creation, expansion, transition and retention of child care programs (home-based or center-based). Partner with other funders to develop financing packages that reflects the unique nature of child care finance and help create a sustainable future for their operations.
Support Local Needs Analysis/Market Research
It’s important to have research and data to support solutions to any kind of issue. This is especially true for working on action plans to solve child care issues in communities. Information garnered through local needs analysis and/or market research is a critical component of finding out what the community needs and wants for child care. This data can help inform the right-sized solutions for each community.
Storytelling is a great way to share information and help people understand this critical issue. Child care providers, parents, employers and many others all have their own unique stories to tell about their experiences with child care. Collect stories and share them throughout your community and with your local decision leaders and lawmakers.
The saying “a little goes a long way” is especially true for child care providers. This career is often an isolated venture with few opportunities to feel appreciated. Child care provider appreciation can be an event with door prizes, a meal, training, networking, or it can be as simple as sending a note in the mail – or anything in between! Acts of appreciation can also lead to better retention of providers.
Financial Support for Trainings
Finding quality trainers that are properly approved can be tough for child care providers. Often providers are required to travel long distances, which may require them to close their business early in order to attend, or a trainer may charge significant fees to provide local trainings. Helping offset the costs for child care providers to attend quality trainings can ensure they are receiving timely and affordable trainings to maintain quality care.
Provide Free Training Space
In addition to fees to attend trainings, it has become increasingly difficult to find spaces to accommodate trainings for providers during evenings and weekends. Providing access to meeting, conference or board rooms (free of charge) increases the probability providers can attend trainings locally, or within reasonable distances. Visit the training spaces page to view the list of available free training spaces in southwest Minnesota. You can also add your training space to the list using this submission form.
Own and Operate Child Care
Child care can be operated in many ways, including a business-owned and operated program. This solution is great for businesses or organizations that want to support employees through a direct service. On-site or off-site, offering employees a child care option can be an incentive to attract and retain talent.
The opportunity to lease vacant space for a family-based child care provider can fill an empty space and offer a child care provider an opportunity to run a business outside of the home. Additionally, partnerships like these can create opportunities to cost share other utilities and/or services.
- Southwest Initiative Foundation: Child Care in Action (PDF) This fact sheet explores the five areas of focus for the foundation’s work supporting quality, affordable child care — a critical part of our economy and communities in southwest Minnesota.
- Southwest Initiative Foundation: Bright Beginnings Loan Program This fact sheet explores the five areas of focus for the foundation’s work supporting quality, affordable child care — a critical part of our economy and communities in southwest Minnesota.
- The Business Case for Investing in High-Quality Child Care (PDF) This fact sheet highlights the child care industry’s economic and job impact in Minnesota.
- Child Care Aware of Minnesota West/Central District Child Care Aware provides families, child care programs, and the community with information and support for quality child care that is affordable and accessible.
- First Children’s Finance First Children’s Finance provides loans and business-development assistance to high-quality child care businesses serving low- and moderate-income families.