The Fairmont Childcare Action Plan was unveiled on Thursday .The Rural Child Care Innovation Program (RCCIP), is a community engagement process designed to develop right-sized solutions to address the needs of early care and education in Minnesota’s rural communities. The goal of RCCIP is to help communities identify the scope and size of their child care challenges, and to empower and support communities to develop solutions to address these challenges. The Community Solution Action Plan for Fairmont, Minnesota, intends to outline the child care challenges identified in the community, and the proposed solutions to improve the state of child care in the area. A Core Team from Fairmont, with the support of First Children’s Finance, conducted a thorough investigation and analysis to uncover the factors creating the child care shortage in the area through focus groups, individual interviews, and surveys with a multitude of stakeholders in the community. To understand the potential need for child care in Fairmont, First Children’s Finance conducted a Potential Needs Analysis, which showed the child care shortage of Martin County was 172 slots and Fairmont had the highest need with a shortage of 81 slots. The analysis revealed that it’s very difficult to be a child care provider due to numerous rules and regulations, low pay and no benefits, long hours, and high operating costs. Staffing is a significant expense for many child care programs, resulting in 60-80% of overall expenses. This heavily influences the ability of child care providers to sustain their child care operations. The analysis revealed that the child care shortage has severely impacted parents living in Fairmont. Nearly 40% of survey respondents declined employment or withdrew from the workforce due to child care issues. Absence from work (when a provider is closed for the day), inability to work a flexible schedule, inability to work different shifts, and tardiness to work hinders the ability of parents to advance in their careers. Some of the major factors contributing to the child care shortage in Fairmont include increase in dualworking families, attraction of new employees to the area, difficulties of being a child care provider and lack of resources for child care providers.

Through the RCCIP, Fairmont has identified four goals to address the child care challenges. These goals include: • Engage the Private Sector • Renovate SMEC into Family Child Care Spaces • Create Funding for New and Existing Providers to Grow and Increase Quality • Provide Training Opportunities for Child Care Programs

In implementing these goals, Fairmont will improve the state of child care, empower local child care providers through continuous community support, provide parents with more care options, and providers with better resources to run and operate their child care businesses. In the next 12 months, First Children’s Finance will support the core team in implementing these goals and measuring outcomes of their efforts.

Linsey Preuss ,Fairmont Economic Development Coordinator encourages people to contact her if you are interested in providing on no-cost or low-cost space for a child care program to operate, if you want to contribute to a fund that incentivizes new child care entrepreneurs or if you want to support existing child care businesses by underwriting professional development costs. 

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