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Update on Child Care Wayfinder

Nursery children playing with teacher in the classroom

Child Care Wayfinder is a one-stop navigation network for starting and growing child care programs. As part of regional Child Care Aware agencies and MNTRECC (Minnesota Tribal Resources for Early Childhood Care), local navigators help people in their communities create, sustain, and expand licensed home-based and center-based programs.

The number of child care providers and the available spaces in child care programs have continued to decline, resulting in a need to open more programs. Even before the pandemic, Minnesota was already estimated to lack nearly 80,000 child care slots. Outside of the Twin Cities metro area, there has been a steep decline in family- and center-based spaces, continuing an almost 20-year trend. Current child care business owners also need the support that Wayfinder provides. A recent survey by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank asked survey respondents how long they could remain in business under current conditions. One in five said a year or less, and half said they didn’t know.

In the first six months after its launch, Child Care Wayfinder had 358 contacts across the state. It helped to open 84 new programs, adding 1,061 new licensed child care slots. The project’s website has had over 8,000 visitors, and a robust digital advertising campaign is reaching potential family child care and center owners across the state.

Participants in Wayfinder appreciate the program’s help. “My Wayfinder Navigator helped boost my confidence in being able to push me into pursuing my dreams of being a licensed in-home child care provider,” said participant Kailee Ripplinger. “ She went out of her way to be of assistance to me when I needed help and didn’t know who else to turn to.” Another participant, Liz Elton, said, “I would not have gotten through even half of the daycare licensing paperwork and requirements if it weren’t for my navigator with Wayfinder. She has helped educate me on how to open and start a business as well as how to be successful long-term …To say this program is highly necessary and needed is an understatement.”

To learn more about the Child Care Wayfinder program, please visit the website.