Minnesota introduces $316-million program to increase wages for child care workers

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Governor Tim Walz has announced a $316-million program to increases wages for child care workers.

Starting October 16th Walz says you have until October 25th to apply. Over the next two years $316-million will go into improving wages and benefits. $130-million will follow each year after.

Qualifications must be met. To qualify for compensation support payments, providers must:

  • Be licensed, certified, or registered
  • Be in good standing with the Minnesota Department of Human Services or their Tribe
  • Be open, operating and serving children during the funding period, and
  • Meet additional requirements.

Locally, we spoke to Happy Time Day Care Center Director Kallie Thomas about what this will mean for child care workers in the Northland.

Child Care Centers have been facing understaffing problems for a long time. Happy Time Day Care Center is the longest running child care center in Duluth. Thomas told us when her grandmother opened Happy Time Day Care Center in 1969 they faced similar staffing issues.

“It’s everywhere, its not just here. We’re all having the same problem of not having enough people to operate,” said Thomas.

Thomas says though the funding is great, more need to be done to attract people to the profession. Promoting Early Childhood Education programs in high schools and colleges is a good start, said Thomas.

Owner of the Duluth Mom Andrea Jang is a parent experiencing the other side of the understaffing. Parents struggling to find child care. Jang says she hopes this funding helps with paying child care workers a livable wage as well.

“I ran into a friend the other day, and she told me her husband is a stay at home dad until they can find child care,” said Jang.

Governor Walz wrote in a press release that Minnesota’s economy does not operate without child care. Both Thomas and Jang say they agree with the statement.

Thomas notes that Happy Time Day Care Center is in a temporary location while their permanent location undergoes maintenance.