Decline in child care facilities tightens options for parents

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If you’re a parent, this won’t come as a surprise: There’s a decreasing number of child care options across Minnesota. 

Many providers closed during the pandemic and never reopened; others were challenged by the labor shortage.

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, in October 2019 there were 10,002 licensed day cares in Minnesota. In October 2022, that number had dropped to 8,749. That amounts to 1,253 closures across the state in just three years.

“Workers are underpaid. Many average $12 an hour with no benefits,” said Tikki Brown, assistant commissioner of Children and Family Services for DHS. 

Brown says the pandemic and workforce shortages combined to create this dilemma, with rural parts of the state being disproportionately impacted.

“Parents are caught in a situation of having child care that is too expensive, so they are determining if they should be in the workforce at all,” she said.

The state has a range of programs to help struggling daycare providers.

Just last week, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz awarded nearly $2.5 million in funding to increase access to affordable child care in 17 different communities across the state.