December 01, 2022 04:30 PM
WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission received welcome news Thursday when Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced it was the recipient of a $200,000 child care grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
“In every community across the state, we hear from families and small businesses that increasing access to affordable child care is the best way to support our workforce, grow our economy and foster economic prosperity,” said Walz in a news release announcing grants to several organizations. “These grants reach communities across our state to help increase child care access and ensure families and our youngest Minnesotans receive the care and early education they deserve.”
It is a well-known fact that child care in Kandiyohi County and the city of Willmar has been a significant issue for several years, and which continues to get worse each year.
A report from the nonprofit First Children’s Finance in June of 2021 showed that there was a need for 651 additional child care slots in Kandiyohi County. The new report this year, which came out in October, showed the number of child care slots needed had risen to 935 — a 44.3% increase in demand.
“The bulk of that change comes from growing families,” said EDC Business Development Manager Sarah Swedburg at an EDC meeting in October. “There are more children under the age of five in 2022 in most communities (in the county) than there were in 2021. To me, that is a positive thing. … It doesn’t mean the crisis isn’t less, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have our work cut out for us. … Not everybody can boast that they have those growing communities.”