Minnesota launches child care initiative for military families

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Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan on Monday announced the launch of a new Department of Defense initiative that will expand child care benefits for military families.
Courtesy photo

Gov. Tim Walz and state military personnel announced Monday the Minnesota launch of the Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood-PLUS, a program funded by the Department of Defense that helps full-time military staff and active-duty service families with child care costs up to $1,800 a month.

Walz said the state has a commitment to military members who are separated from their families to do everything possible to make sure their families are well cared for.

“One of the most challenging pieces of this is for a family, a parent to stay home working full time to be in responsible for the child care,” Walz said. “I know with my military deployment, I left when my daughter was 2 and came back when she was 3. Everything that happened in between there, my wife was dealing with by working full time, by taking care of things, by making sure the house kept running.”

Child care costs in Minnesota are some of the highest in the nation, and for military service families who don’t have access to a child care provider on base, that cost adds up.

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Mimi Obazeluwa said this program will save her family about 50 percent of their child care costs.

“My husband is deployed overseas, and having two small children by myself is a lot of work,” Obazeluwa said. “Having children in day care is quite expensive. It’s pretty much like university, a four-year college tuition. So having support and assistance from this program is really, really beneficial.”

Minnesota has over 10,000 spouses and more than 16,000 children of active-duty members, and Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke said the program will also help the Department of Defense retain soldiers and full-time staff.

“It keeps them and helps us retain them because you recruit a soldier, but you retain a family,” Manke said. “And this is one more program that helps us retain those families.”

Minnesota child care providers can apply to be a part of the sliding scale program for military families now with Child Care Aware MN.