Childcare Solutions

Thousands of Central Minnesota families face a critical challenge: They lack access to quality, affordable childcare. The shortfall—an estimated deficit of up to 17,000 slots to meet demand—affects children’s development and school-readiness. Equally important: While employers desperately seek skilled workers, many able-bodied parents can’t engage in the workforce due to the lack of quality, affordable care.

Our Role in the Region

The Initiative Foundation contracts with organizations to offer direct support and services for the sector through community and workforce initiatives.

Supported by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the Initiative Foundation works with partner organizations to support …

  • community-based planning, consulting, and technical assistance
  • workforce development through scholarships to help child care professionals earn their educational credentials
  • training, consulting and technical assistance for childcare business professionals.

Note: We do not offer grants directly to childcare businesses.

Childcare Listening Sessions

The Initiative Foundation will be co-hosting listening sessions on Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) draft licensing standards for family- and center-based childcare providers. Feedback is a crucial step in the process as DHS works through these potential changes.

Provider, Nonprofit, Community Resources

We align with partner organizations across the state to support Central Minnesota’s childcare sector. Access the below to meet your needs. If your needs are not met with the below information, contact Jessica Gilder, Childcare Solutions program officer.

Start a Childcare Business

If you are interested in starting a childcare business, Child Care Aware is your first stop. Navigators can answer questions, guide you through licensing requirements, and provide resources and opportunities for training necessary to enter the field.

Information on Licensing

If you are interested in starting a childcare business or are a current provider, the Minnesota Department of Human Services has information on childcare licensing.

Nonprofit, Community Grants

Nonprofits and local units of government are eligible for grants through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the United States Department of Agriculture.

For-profit Grant Funding

Childcare Aware has limited grant funding available to for-profit childcare providers.

Access Provider Training

Childcare professionals sometimes face barriers to access required training. Childcare Aware can help to identify low- and no-cost ways to complete required training.

Earn Your Credentials

The Initiative Foundation subsidizes the cost of credentialing for childcare professionals. Childcare programs are available at St. Cloud Technical and Community College, Central Lakes College and Pine Technical and Community College.

Looking for Resources in Your Community?

Helpful childcare coalitions exist throughout Central Minnesota. Identify your county and select the link to learn more:


Childcare Education Support

From entry-level childhood development associate certificates to advanced degrees, three local institutions—Central Lakes College (Brainerd), Pine Technical and Community College and St. Cloud Technical and Community College—can offer Initiative Foundation-supported packages that allow students to graduate debt-free. The goal of the program is to recruit new workers into the sector and/or help them gain the credentials to earn higher pay.

Community Facilitation

The Initiative Foundation partners with First Children’s Finance to engage employers, providers, school districts, parents and others affected by a lack of quality, affordable childcare. As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), staff at First Children’s Finance present hard data on the size and location of childcare gaps. They help facilitate conversations about assets and challenges, and they have a shared goal of identifying practical strategies to improve local access. The Initiative Foundation can support up to three $10,000 grants annually to communities that complete the strategic-planning process. First Children’s Finance can also offer business consulting and financing. Email Candace Cegla or call (320) 288-2698 to learn more.

Business Consulting, Assistance

Business of Child Care is available to provide one-on-one business consulting and counseling for childcare providers. Any work with Business of Child Care is underwritten by the Initiative Foundation with grant support from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Childcare Solutions Newsletter

Subscribe to the Initiative Foundation’s Childcare Solutions newsletter to stay in the loop on upcoming trainings, resources and other opportunities.

Contact Us

Reach out for questions about starting a childcare business, to explore solutions for your community or to share your ideas and innovative strategies.

Jessica Gilder

Jessica Gilder

Childcare Solutions Programs Officer (320) 631-2030
Don Hickman

Don Hickman

Vice President for Community & Workforce Development (320) 631-2043


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