“The dollar amounts are reasonable and the premises are reasonable,” Becker County Board Chairman Barry Nelson said at a recent county board meeting. “We need to sort out the details of his administration and recover the funds if necessary. “
Ahead of the vote, Becker County Economic Development Coordinator Guy Fischer outlined three strategies to increase the number of available child care spaces in Becker County by 15%.
“It is estimated that 600 slots are needed in Becker County, so 15% (80 slots) seems small but achievable,” he told commissioners.
Family daycare start-up grants up to $ 10,000
The first strategy is to provide family day care start-up grants of up to $ 10,000, which is the estimated cost of starting a licensed and state-approved family day care business.
On average, that’s a 3- to 6-month start-up time, Fischer said, and the first grant of $ 5,000 would be available after three months, with the second of $ 5,000 coming after six months.
Suppliers must remain in business for at least 30 months or repay the subsidy, pro rata to the duration of the activity.
Several commissioners were concerned that daycares would get the money and then leave the business.
Nancy Jost, director of early childhood issues for the West Central Initiative, said her agency has been lucky with a similar loan program.
“We have had a forgivable loan program for several years,” she told Commissioners. “We’ve had a good response from people who stay in business, and if they don’t, then they pay it back,” she said.
Mary Rotter, owner of Laker Prep Preschool, also attended the meeting and noted that loans can go up to $ 10,000, but not all daycares will need them.
A home day care home with eight children, but licensed to accommodate up to 10 children, may need to make improvements to meet basic licensure requirements to add those two additional children, she explained. . Even basic state requirements can be difficult for suppliers to meet, she said.
Are you wondering why it costs $ 10,000 to start a family day care center?
Take a look at some of the eligible start-up costs, which include Sudden and Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome training, severe head injury training, and first aid, child development, health and safety training. Security.
And don’t forget about related upgrades such as home garage fire doors, exit windows, handrails, fire extinguishers, exterior fencing / grates, water testing, first aid kits , fingerprints, equipment and materials from each of the required categories, outdoor climbers, and resilient surfaces.
The county will provide a $ 100,000 start-up reserve for family child care start-up grants. Commissioner Larry Knutson has offered to allocate the money and approve the program, with details to be worked out later. Commissioner John Okeson seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.
Help new child care providers navigate state requirements
A second strategy, funded by the Early Years Initiative, is to provide a “daycare navigation assistant” to help new daycare businesses succeed. The idea is also to recruit people interested in starting a family daycare, to help them navigate the authorization process and to help them finance the first operations.
The navigation assistant would also seek out new or existing funding sources to improve child care in Becker County.
“It’s kind of a gap position,” Fischer explained. “We anticipate that more funding will come into play in the not-too-distant future.
County offers emergency aid to providers until 2022
The third strategy is to provide county emergency aid grants to child care providers.
“The goal is to stabilize the local child care industry,” Fischer said. “We are looking at $ 85,000 in 2021 and $ 85,000 in 2022.”
The state’s new child care plan to increase daycare wages and benefits
The county’s program will work in conjunction with the state’s new child care plan, which includes $ 304 million through June 2023 to increase the wages and benefits of child care workers (at least 70% of the subsidy must go) and help pay for daycare equipment and other expenses (the remaining 30% of their subsidy).
This $ 304 million pot of money will also be used to help child care centers that are able to demonstrate financial difficulty, Fischer said.
In addition, the state will spend about $ 102 million over the next two years to boost the child care assistance program. Fischer noted that most of the money, which comes from the US federal bailout, will be used to increase low wages and benefits for child care providers.
The state is also providing $ 22.5 million in upgrade grants for child care facilities.
More than a dozen government and nonprofit agencies and private companies are working to improve the condition of child care centers in Becker County, serving on the Committee for the Future of Children and Children. early childhood.
Jost and Rotter, for example, are on that committee, as are Karen Pifher of Essentia Health, Detroit Lakes Administrator Kelcey Klemm, and Denise Warren, Becker County Director of Social Services.