Emergency Grants Helped Programs Stay Open
As the pandemic descended in March, the Minnesota Legislature funded $30 million in emergency grants to help child care programs respond to the child care needs of essential workers. An additional $10 million was added to the program in June. The Minnesota Department of Human Services, Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, and Child Care Aware of Minnesota worked together to distribute the grants. Now we have data showing that these grants helped programs stay open and pay for basic expenses to continue operations.
In September, Child Trends surveyed both applicants who received grants and those who did not, to better understand the impact of the grants program. The majority of recipients said that the program helped them stay open (76% of centers, and 55% of family child care programs). Child care programs reported using the funds for basic needs, such as wages, cleaning supplies, rent or mortgage, and food. Grant recipients were also less likely to close than those who did not receive grants.
The Center for American Progress estimates that child care expenses for Minnesota child care programs have increased by over 60% due to lower group size mandates requiring additional staff, the cost of extra cleaning and supplies, and lost income from periodic closures or lower than normal enrollment. The State of Minnesota has been operating an expanded monthly grant program to help meet these expenses (COVID-19 Public Health Support Funds for Child Care), which was authorized through the end of December. In January, the Minnesota legislature will have an opportunity to extend this program for additional months so that child care programs can continue to serve Minnesota families.