Task force exploring day care options for Swift County

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Adequate daycare is seen as essential to bringing young families to the area to fill the jobs employers have open. It is seen as necessary to keeping young families enrolling their children in local school districts and keeping them there.

A lack of daycare options also keeps some people out of the labor force who could otherwise be employed.

The challenge of finding daycare is particularly hard for parents of newborns to two-year-olds. It is also a challenge for those who do shift work who need daycare services outside the 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. time period as well as for those who need weekend daycare.

To address the shortage of daycare and lack of flexible hours in the area, a group of government, local foundation, and area schools representatives met at the end of June to discuss options for providing daycare services in Swift County.

Represented at the meeting were Swift County’s board of commissioners, Benson Public Schools, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Schools, Lac qui Parle Valley Schools, Prairie 5 Head Start, the Swift County Rural Development Authority, Appleton’s Prairie Playhouse Childcare, the Benson Area Community Foundation and the Robert Sonsteng Foundation.

There are a lot of challenges to addressing the needs of ensuring there are adequate daycare services in the county, County Administrator Mike Pogge-Weaver told the board of commissioners at its July 5 meeting. He was at the meeting and was updating the board on the discussion.

“How do you deal with the zero to two-year-olds in our community?” he asked. “Do you keep a parent home those first two years before you try bridge to pre-school that may be available through the school system? It is a challenging issue.”

One statistic Pogge-Weaver said he heard that adds some urgency to finding solutions to the daycare shortage in the county has to do with the growing number of single parent households. “By 2018, fully half of kindergarten kids will come from single parent households,” he said.

“That is not very far away.” That statistic is pretty reflective of what superintendents throughout the area are seeing, he added.

“There are no easy answers,” Pogge-Weaver said. These are complex issues; in rural Minnesota daycare is a challenge...

 

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