Brenda Alayna

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

In 2018, 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)


Faribault (55021)


Mankato (56001)


Northfield (55057)


Rochester (55904)


Red Wing (56066)


Waseca (56093)


Rochester (55906)


Albert Lea (56007)


Lonsdale (55046)


Logo 3up SMIF

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

Jeff Andrews, Early Childhood Business Consultant | | 507.214.7056

Marcia Haley, SBA Lending Director  |  |  507.214.7021