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The Changing Face of Minnesota Child Care

August 12, 2009

St. Paul, MN - Child care experts say there's a growing need in Minnesota for care providers who can serve the increasing diversity of the state's population, to ensure that all kids are ready when they start school.

Cory Woosley, with the Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network, cites an "immediate need" for people to help children who speak a different language or have different traditions. This includes increasing numbers of native Spanish speakers and families from Asia and East Africa, she says.

"We need to recognize that there are a lot of needs in a lot of communities - and what we've found is, these kids coming in are not ready for kindergarten."

Woosley, who coordinates the "Eager-to-Learn" program for the state, says providing kids the best possible preschool experiences will help then cope with what's ahead in their lives.

"We know we have great kids, we know we have great people, and things aren't going to go back to a different way, you know. Our goal is always to have well-educated kids - and I think we can do that, and also be a leader in working with diverse communities."

The Internet allows the Resource and Referral Network to use almost two dozen sites to reach kids throughout the state with an online learning program to promote early childhood education. With almost half of Minnesota children spending time in some form of child care and 14,000 facilities to serve families, Woosley says, it is critical to meet their needs - and in some cases, the needs are urgent.

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN