Southern Minnesota Child Care

Why is Child Care Important to the Region?

Child care is an economic driver for communities in greater Minnesota, and child care shortages have a dramatic impact on families and the local economy. In the last 12 months, 87% of Minnesotan’s, aged 20-44, have participated in the workforce. With these high participation rates, access to high quality child care is of critical importance to working families. When families can’t find child care, they are unable to fully participate in the work-force and may eventually leave the area in pursuit of other opportunities.



Potential Need Overview

First Children’s Finance completed a Potential Need Analysis of child care for our 20-county region. In conducting this analysis, they leveraged US Census Information, MN DHS Child Care Licensing Records, MN DEED, and other internal research tools including First Children’s Finance data. The results of the research found that our region has a potential need of 8,616 licensed child care slots. This analysis was critical as it is the basis of understanding for the scope of the problem and development of right-sized solutions.

More Information

  • There were 139 licensed child care centers and 1607 licensed family child care providers included in the potential need analysis
  • 71 current programs with overall capacity of 2,469 were excluded from this report due to operations that didn’t offer full-time care or year-round care
  •  Zip Codes in Austin, Mankato, and Rochester have the highest potential need in the SMIF region

Potential Need by County

County Child Care Slots
County Child Care Slots
Blue Earth -906
Mower -1105
Brown -86
Nicollet -247
Dodge -187
Olmsted -1060
Faribault -247
Rice -865
Fillmore -218
Sibley -272
Freeborn -567
Steele +27
Goodhue -837
Wabasha -376
Houston -102
Waseca -489
Le Sueur -263
Watonwan -337
Martin -172
Winona -308

Zip Codes with Highest Potential Need

Zipcode Child Care Slots
Zipcode Child Care Slots
Austin (55912) -847
Faribault (55021) -242
Mankato (56001) -727
Northfield (55057) -204
Rochester (55904) -552
Red Wing (56066) -184
Waseca (56093) -370
Rochester (55906) -184
Albert Lea (56007) -315
Lonsdale (55046) -174


Download Child Care Need Data by Zip Code

Download Child Care Need Data by County

Download Child Care Need Data by City

Southern Minnesota Child Care Resources

First Children's Finance

  • Potential Need Analysis
  • Financial Modeling for New and Existing Child Care Businesses
  • Business Strategy & Plan Development
  • General Business Training
  • Rural Child Care Innovation Program

Heidi Hagel Braid, Chief Program Officer  |  |  612.279.6504

Jim Dickinson, Loan & Financing Needs  |  |  612.279.6507


Families First of MN/Child Care Aware Southern

  • High quality learning environments
  • Start-up grants
  • Regional Grants to support existing providers
  • Parent Aware
  • Professional Development
  • Consulting on start up, licensing, staffing, quality for family and center providers

GRANTS (Start-up and Current Providers):

Dawn Eckhoff  |  |  507.287.2020 ext 1525


Amber English  |  |  507.287.2020 ext 1404


Rhonda Olson  |  |  507.287.2020 ext 1585


Shannon Wolters (family providers)  |  |  507.287.2020 ext 1501

Elizabeth Mangan (centers)  |  |  507.287.2020 ext 1515


Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation

  • Quality Child Care Program
    • $300 free Curriculum for joining Parent Aware
    • 2hr approved training
  • Host free trainings
  • Early Childhood Conference
  • Grant opportunities for communities
  • Loans for family child care

Rae Jean Hansen, VP of Early Childhood  |  |  507.214.7012

Teri Steckelberg, Early Childhood Director  |  |  507.214.7015

Marcia Haley, SBA Lending Director  |  |  507.214.7021

Click to Download Above Resources


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