Penny weighs in on child care crisis

BLUE EARTH — Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation president and CEO Tim Penny visited with Faribault County commissioners this week to discuss the growing need for child care in the region.

“The needs there are enormous,” Penny said. “We know the shortage is a huge issue, and for that reason, we’ve partnered with a couple of other organizations to address this.”

As Penny explained, one of the ways SMIF is helping to meet the growing demand for child care is through a partnership with AmericCorps. Through this program, recent college students are hired to work in the early child care industry.

Book distribution programs also serve as a vital resource in early childhood development,” Penny noted.

“Just last week, we loaded books into the cars and pickup trucks of about 41 different organizations here in southern Minnesota,” he said. “We delivered books that will be used for early learning programs, which will help the children stay on par with their peers once they enter kindergarten.”

Penny said pre-K grants to schools such as United South Central, as well as early childhood provider training within Faribault County, also have aided in the organization’s effort to address the need for increased child care in the area.

“In Blue Earth, I think you have enough resources to take care of your child care needs, but that is the exception to the rest of the county,” he said.

SMIF, which serves a 20-county region, is responsible for investing $5 million annually into the south-central and south-east areas of Minnesota.