Mower United Way to participate in program addressing child care shortage

Published 7:48 am Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Austin was chosen as one of five communities to participate in a new program addressing child care shortages by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

More than a dozen applicants from across the 20-county region applied to participate in the program. With child care being an economic driver for communities in Greater Minnesota, the shortages showed a dramatic impact on families and the local economy.

According to a recent SMIF research study, there’s a potential need of 8,919 licensed child care slots, and when families can’t find child care, they are unable to fully participate in the workforce and may eventually leave the area in pursuit of other opportunities.

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Each community will work with SMIF for six to 18 months to develop individualized action plans to address local child care needs. Austin was short 847 slots for child care, according to SMIF, and selections were made based on shortage numbers, community readiness and core team participation.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to the child care shortage,” said Teri Steckelberg, Early Childhood Director at SMIF. “We look forward to sitting down with each core team to develop a plan that is best suited for their unique needs.”

After completing the process, these communities will become eligible for competitive grants of up to $10,000 to support the implementation of their plans.