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Seeking child care

Consultant to study local day care market supply and demand
Lori Sorenson

There’s a child care shortage in Luverne and Rock County, and the market is about to get tighter with pending retirements in the home day care market.
That’s the message working parents and child care providers are sending to city leaders who on Monday authorized a formal study to measure the local supply and demand.
“I’m told it’s been discussed off and on for years, and now it’s on again,” said Holly Sammons, director of the Luverne Economic Development Authority.
“At this point the City is not looking at entering the child care market or offering any solutions, we’re just opening the doors for discussion and insight and hope to gather some useful information to be shared with the community.”
At the recent Blandin Community Leadership Program training, adequate quality child care was identified as an important component of an economically thriving and healthy community.
Sanford CEO Tammy Loosbrock also shared that the number one concern in Sanford’s 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment was the availability of quality infant care and child care.
Sammons said she’s had discussions with local parents and child care providers who have told her there are waiting lists for care.
“One parent told me she had to check with her day care provider before they even conceived,” Sammons said at Monday morning’s EDA meeting.
“The question has always been, ‘How do you make something like this (a community day care center) cash flow?’”
With stringent state regulations and historically low wages for child care workers, the overhead costs involved in establishing a day care center eliminate profit margins.
Some Minnesota communities the size of Luverne have resorted to subsidized, not-for-profit day care centers in order to support a local economy of working parents.
For example, in Montevideo, population roughly 5,300, the infant care shortage became so severe last year the city helped pay for an addition to a non-profit early childhood center.
A Star Tribune story about statewide child care shortages pointed to Montevideo as one community whose city leaders got involved in a solution.
The story reported that when the new addition opened in September, all 12 infant spots were full.
Luverne isn’t specifically considering a community day care center at present, but Monday’s EDA action is a step to understand the current market situation and summarize the unmet child care demand in the trade area.
The board approved a $7,000 contract with Maxfield Research and Consulting, Golden Valley, for a child care demand analysis study.
The firm will study overall population and household growth trends through 2020, household incomes, fertility rates, number of stay-at-home moms, commuting patterns of where people work and more.
The study will also look at local trends among in-home child care providers — capacity, cost, availability, hours of service, types of services and more.
The goal of the study is to estimate potential demand for additional child care services.
The study will be complete in January.
“This study will give us a snapshot of current market supply and demand,” Sammons said.
“These numbers can be used by anyone — those already in day care, those considering getting into it. It will be public data.”