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Child Care Wayfinder Navigators

Young children learning the English alphabet with their parents

Child Care Wayfinder is a one-stop navigation network for starting and growing child care programs. It provides encouragement, support, and connection to resources required for initial licensing and resources needed for sustaining or expanding currently licensed child care programs. It began in 2022 and operates through a system of local navigators in Child Care Aware agencies throughout the state and at Minnesota Tribal Resources for Early Childhood Care (MNTREC).

Child Care Aware of Minnesota recently interviewed the navigators in our Child Care Wayfinder program to see how this new initiative is going from their point of view.

The navigators reported many successes, particularly noting the relationships they have built with local child care licensors, community partners, and program participants. Many navigators appreciate the flexibility of the program design, which allows them to creatively meet the needs of participants rather than following a strict one-size-fits-all approach. The navigators also mentioned the growth of the program and playing a role in new or expanding child care programs.

Many navigators have been actively engaged with communities of color and potential child care owners who don’t speak English. While language barriers can make this outreach challenging, success stories were shared of navigators working successfully with bilingual colleagues, interpreters, and BIPOC community representatives.

Navigators reported challenges balancing their workloads between marketing to new audiences while serving existing participants. Participants also face barriers to success in sustaining a child care program, including how to become financially viable, and challenges related to licensing and the start-up process including finding locations for programs, prohibitive upfront costs, technological issues, and limited training options and access.

More information about Child Care Wayfinder is available on the program website.