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Emergency child care grant program launched

The six Minnesota Initiative foundations, including Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, have created an emergency child care grant program to provide immediate financial support to licensed child care providers in Greater Minnesota in response to the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release. All six foundations have committed $50,000 — for a total of $300,000 dedicated for Greater Minnesota child care providers right away — and are working to secure additional resources from other partners.  

SMIF will award grants of up to $1,000 to eligible licensed family child care programs and grants of up to $3,000 for licensed center-based programs in SMIF’s 20-county region. To be eligible, providers must be caring for the children (ages birth to 5 years) of parents or guardians who are working in government-identified critical sectors who are exempt during this time from the stay at home order.

Interested child care providers located in SMIF’s region should complete a short application provided on SMIF’s website. The intent is to provide a response and funding to qualified child care businesses within approximately two weeks of receiving their application.

The Minnesota Initiative Foundations were established in response to the economic crisis of the 1980s and have a long history of working together to help Greater Minnesota communities thrive. Together, they became leaders in promoting early childhood care and education and building coalitions and collaborative partnerships to support young children and their families. Most recently, they have been working with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and dozens of local leaders, agencies, organizations and businesses to develop community solutions to address the child care shortage in Greater Minnesota. 

“It has been heartbreaking to hear from our child care partners across southern Minnesota as they deal with new challenges as a result of this unprecedented crisis,” said Rae Jean Hansen, vice president of early childhood at SMIF. “At SMIF, we are honored to be able to play a part in supporting child care businesses as they fill a critical need in our communities by caring for children of emergency and essential personnel.”

Workers who work in critical sectors during this time are exempt from the stay at home order. These exemptions are based on federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with some Minnesota-specific additions. To learn more about who is considered a critical worker, visit the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s website. For questions about who is considered a critical worker, contact CriticalSectors@state.mn.us.

For questions about SMIF’s emergency child care grant program, contact Hansen at raejeanh@smifoundation.org or 507-214-7012.

Learn more about Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s COVID-19 response in southern Minnesota at smifoundation.org/covid-19.