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More Than 8 in 10 Minnesotans Live in Child-Care Deserts

Minnesota has the highest number of children living in areas where there aren't enough child care centers, a new study shows. (Mike Baca)
Minnesota has the highest number of children living in areas where there aren't enough child care centers, a new study shows. (Mike Baca)
October 31, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS – A new study shows Minnesota has the highest rate of so-called child care deserts in the country.

The Center for American Progress looked at statistics from eight states to compare the number of children under age five to the number of child care facilities.

Report author Rasheed Malik, a policy analyst for the Center’s Early Childhood Policy Team, says Minnesota has about 1,250 child care centers, but there are roughly 350,000 children age five or younger.

"Minnesota, more than 70 percent of the population lives in child care deserts,” Malik states. “And this is also a disproportionately rural phenomenon.

“Two-thirds of the rural child care deserts didn't have a child care center at all within the bounds of that ZIP code."

The Twin Cities region is one of the largest urban child care deserts in the study. About two-thirds of the Minneapolis-St. Paul population lives in a child care desert, which amounts to 1.2 million people.

Malik says in the decades to come, children of color will become the majority, yet they're more likely to live in child care deserts, especially Hispanic children.

"This is an opportunity for us to think about our future, future workforce, our future innovators,” he stresses. “These children deserve the best start that we can possibly give them, and high quality child care and early education is one of the safest investments we can make as a society."

The study says helping families pay for child care may drive the market. If more families can afford to enroll their children, then more facilities will be built.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN