Gaining ideas to aid the lack of child care
by Trinity Gruenberg
Child care in Wadena County is difficult to find. Some turn to family for help, work opposite shifts of their spouse, or just stay at home to care for their children. The lack of child care is what First Children’s Finance (FCF) and the Economic Alliance hope to solve.
FCF operates the Rural Childcare Innovation Program (RCCIP) that is designed to address the challenges of child care in rural communities. A town hall meeting was held at Minnestoa State Community and Technical College on January 27 to discuss the child care crisis.
“Child care is a huge need. It affects more than just our children. It affects our employers and our whole community,” said Katie Heppner, executive director of the Economic Alliance.
Heppner explained last January they began the Wadena County Business Retention and Expansion project where they surveyed 98 businesses across Wadena County. The University of Minnesota took the data to identify critical issues in the community. One of the biggest issues found was child care with 42 percent of business responding they were dissatisfied with the availability of child care. Wadena County is one of five selected by the RCCIP for this project.
A core team of individuals from businesses and organizations in the county held a focus group and worked to meet and survey people, including taking a poll online to collect data for the town hall meeting and identify the issues.
“Child care is a bigger issue than just taking care of children,” said Kari Stattelman, business development specialist with FCF. . . .