Group seeks solutions to child care needs

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Providing families with affordable, reliable, and flexible day care is a substantial challenge in many rural communities around Minnesota.
When a community can’t provide the day care services families need, they will look for jobs and homes in communities where the services are offered.
When families in rural Minnesota can’t find day care services that meet their needs, Minnesota loses part of its potential workforce as one parent is forced to stay at home with a child.
To address the day care challenges facing rural western Minnesota, First Children’s Finance and the Southwest Initiative Foundation have teamed up for a program called Greater Than Minnesota. It builds on the themes that:
 - Greater Minnesota is greater than the sum of all its parts.
- Greater Minnesota is greater than the challenges it faces.
- Greater Minnesota has dreams for its children that are greater than the status quo.
January 28 the two organizations brought together in Benson day care providers, parents needing day care services, business and community leaders, early child care and education professionals “to give input into a comprehensive community child care plan for Swift, Big Stone, Chippewa, and Lac qui Parle counties.”
Heidi Hagel Braid, Minnesota Director of First Children’s Finance, facilitated a discussion about challenges and possible solutions to meet the day care challenges facing rural Minnesotans. The discussion also involved early childhood education opportunities.
First Children’s Finance provides financial and business-development assistance to high-quality child care businesses serving low- and moderate-income families in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. Its regional office is in Minneapolis.

Photo: Heidi Hagel Braid, the Minnesota director of First Children’s Finance, goes through participant suggestions on how day care can be improved and what the challenges are during a meeting at McKinney’s in Benson Jan. 28.

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