Wadena aims for child care grant, prepared to match up to $30,000
ARPA funds to be used if grant obtained
WADENA — The Wadena City Council has agreed to apply for a $30,000 matching grant to increase child care opportunities in the city.
During a special meeting on Monday, March 20, the City Council approved allocating up to the requested amount in matching funds pulled from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies. ARPA funds were provided to cities by the federal government to use as stimulus funding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The First Children’s Finance Grant Application stated an identified location would “accommodate four new family child care providers in a pod type setting” that would “create up to 48 new childcare slots …”
The location for the potential child care providers was stated to be created through working with “staff at Astera to re-purpose part of the Tri-County Health Care campus …” A map was provided to the council of the proposed child care center, which was noted to be on the north end of the TCHC building and included a common play area.
The opportunity to apply for the grant came about after the city participated in a rural childcare innovative program, where an action plan was written.
According to information provided to the council, the effort started in 2019 under the leadership of Katie Heppner. She worked alongside a coalition that included First Children’s Finance and 32 Wadena County leaders to develop an action plan.
A supply and demand gap analysis was conducted in regard to child care, and community members were surveyed. According to the report provided to the council, the results indicated a deficit of 500 child care slots in the county. Contributing factors to the deficit were noted to be regulations, low pay, no benefits, long hours and high operating costs.