DEED grant to Tri-Valley extended until end of the year

    Work continues to make a dent in one of the biggest challenges the Crookston community is currently facing, a shortage of licensed child care options.

    City Administrator Shannon Stassen says that despite the lack of headlines lately announcing new developments on the subject, work continues on several fronts to eventually provide more child care options for families in the community.

    A grant awarded to Tri-Valley Opportunity Council in Crookston a while back has been extended to the end of 2018, but Stassen said that while the funding from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development is significant and appreciated, additional investment will be necessary if significant progress is to be made on the issue.

    Stassen said Tri-Valley’s Maureen Hams is leading current discussions and that many meetings have been held and continue to be held, and several walk-throughs of existing facilities and potential facilities have taken place.

    Stassen said that all of the efforts shouldn’t be taken as meaning the City of Crookston would be as directly involved as to open a City owned and/or operated child care center. “I can’t see us with our hands actually on it,” he said. “This would be more of a supportive, assistive role. …We’re using our skills and resources to make something happen, and we’re bring other expertise in to  help make something happen. But it’s going to take more than the grant.”

    Some of the grant money has been utilized on some smaller initiatives to boost local child care opportunities, but he said most of the grant is still available.

    Although there’s an interest in getting faster results, Stassen said it’s important to not rush into anything. Finding appropriate child care sites and adding licensed slots is critically important, he said, but it’s a major challenge to find licensed, properly educated staff members to do the work. “You need to recruit people to go into the industry,” he said. “A lot of folks are aging and getting out of the business and we need to replace them with other folks.”

    It’s possible such efforts could be somehow “incentivized,” Stassen said, “But it’s a little early to talk about that.”

    Meanwhile, meetings continue every week, he said.