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New Child Care Scholarships Aim to Ease Staffing Shortage

Minnesota child care experts are hoping a new early education scholarship program could help with the high turnover rate for staff in the industry. (iStockphoto)
Minnesota child care experts are hoping a new early education scholarship program could help with the high turnover rate for staff in the industry. (iStockphoto)
August 8, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Accessing high-quality child care in Minnesota is difficult for many working families, and it's an industry that struggles with frequent staffing shortages. But a new scholarship program aims to help.

New college scholarship and education programs have been announced for early childhood development professionals. Child care experts hope the move can help reduce staff turnover while raising the quality of care. Valerie Peterson, director of financial supports with Child Care Aware of Minnesota, said her group has partnered with KinderCare on a new scholarship program.

"The requirements for centers are very high," Peterson said. "Teachers have to have quite a bit of education, and yet they're not well-paid jobs. And if they don't already have the college courses that they need, then let's help them get them."

The program would help KinderCare employees pay for a college degree if they promise to keep working at KinderCare for at least one year after graduation. The Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead will offer a new child care and education certificate program beginning in the fall.

Peterson said Child Care Aware and KinderCare will be paying the lion's share of the scholarship, which covers about 90 percent of a student's costs for books and tuition. And, she said, the move will benefit both workers and employers.

"The turnover rates are very high in child care because of the low wages, that kind of thing," Peterson said. "And so, this guarantees them then that they're going to keep that employee for at least as many years as they helped support them through school."

According to the state's Department of Human Services, Minnesota has lost thousands of care providers over the past decade, which has left many working parents struggling to find solutions.

Scholarship information is available at childcareawaremn.org.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN