Greater Minnesota’s child care crisis squeezed by pandemic

Woman in mask holds young children in child care center
Karen DeVos is the owner, director and preschool teacher at Little Learners Early Childhood Center in Ada, Minn.. She provides discounted care for the children of employees at an attached assisted living facility and nursing home in exchange for a break on rent.
Courtesy of Karen DeVos

Child care providers have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic as their costs increased and families temporarily pulled their children out. But greater Minnesota was already facing a child care shortage before COVID-19 arrived.    

Over the past 20 years, family child care businesses in rural Minnesota have been closing faster than new ones can open. Greater Minnesota has lost 20,000 child care spaces in two decades, according to a recent report from the Center for Rural Policy and Development.

In the Twin Cities, loss of home day care has mostly been offset by the proliferation of child care centers. But in less densely populated areas, child care centers are less financially viable.  

What can be done to support family child care and centers in Greater Minnesota to support working families and an economic recovery? 

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Host Angela Davis talked to a researcher and the owner of a child care center about challenges and innovation in rural child care. 


  • Marnie Werner is vice president of research and operations at the Center for Rural Policy and Development in Mankato, Minn. 

  • Karen DeVos is owner of Little Learners Child Care Center in Ada, Minn., and a former family child care provider. 

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