Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan Tuesday announced $56.6 million to help support Minnesota child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walz announced the funding Tuesday morning at the Learning Garden in St. Paul and Flanagan highlighted the funding with a visit to a family child care provider in Rochester.

“Child care providers have stepped up to serve emergency workers and ensure families across Minnesota have a safe and reliable place to send their children,” said Walz. “We will continue to support the critical work they do to educate our next generation, support families, and strengthen our economy.”

At the start of the pandemic, Walz and Flanagan asked child care providers to stay open to support the families of emergency workers. Providers responded to this call by diligently working to serve their communities despite great challenges, including significant costs due to decreasing group sizes and cleaning, staffing, and workflow changes needed to keep children healthy and safe. In Minnesota, child care access, especially for health care and other emergency workers, remains critical to the state’s public health response – an estimated 420,000 children are in households with one or two working parents in a tier one or two critical sector.

“Minnesota child care providers have gone above and beyond to support children and families during these unprecedented months,” said Flanagan. “To meet the great need, and despite great challenges, providers have stayed open, including 90 percent of family providers. Our response to COVID-19 could not have happened without their support. They care for our littlest Minnesotans, and we should support them in return.”

Once funding is approved, DHS and the Children’s Cabinet will provide information about how childcare providers can apply for the grants. Families seeking care can call the Child Care Aware parent line at 1-888-291-9811 or visit mn.gov/childcare for a map of open providers.

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