Child care providers across Minnesota will soon have access to additional resources to enhance their services and ensure children and families have access to quality, safe care.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services awarded two grants to the Center for Inclusive Child Care at Concordia University, St. Paul, to launch the Health and Safety Consultation Pilot and the New Infant/Toddler Specialist Network. The $3.2 million in funding from the federal Child Care Development Block Grant extends through 2019. Services through these programs will be available to licensed child care providers statewide.
The Health and Safety Consultation Pilot will support specialists working with child care programs interested in enhancing their quality of care for children and families. Participating child care providers will partner with organizations including Child Care Aware of Minnesota and Parent Aware, Minnesota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, and others to design and improve services and learning environments, and to understand more about children’s development to ensure they are ready for kindergarten.
The New Infant/Toddler Specialist Network will support specialists working with child care programs to enhance their quality of care for children ages birth to 3 and their families. Participating providers will partner with organizations including Child Care Aware of Minnesota, Parent Aware, Minnesota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, and others to learn more about child care and adult safety, promotion of health and safety, disease prevention and culturally responsive care.
“Safe, quality care is critical to children’s success in school,” said Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper. “These investments support providers who are caring for and guiding children each day.”
The department also awarded additional grant funds to First Children’s Finance’s Rural Child Care Innovation Program to focus efforts on increasing the availability of quality child care in Greater Minnesota. The Rural Child Care Innovation Program aims to mobilize and empower Greater Minnesota communities in developing community solutions to current child care challenges, providing support to identify, research and develop feasible solutions to build local leadership in child care and early education, and are expected to serve up to eight Greater Minnesota communities each year.
Child care provider numbers are decreasing while demand for quality care increases. Since 2012, Minnesota has seen about a 15 percent decrease in licensed child care providers. Supporting the educational and professional goals of child care providers increases the quality of care for children.
“With more available and affordable quality care, families can have peace of mind while they work, knowing their children are well taken care of and preparing for kindergarten with the tools they need to succeed,” Piper said.