The idea of making things happen when, and where, there isn’t much else going on is always intriguing. Actually making those events happen is always laudable and worthy of our thanks. After the Fourth of July, summer seems to slow down when folks take vacations or trips to lakes or to other happenings. This makes for a ready-made opportunity for an event or celebration during the long, warm days of July and August.
Sometimes those events are held to raise some funds to help with a good cause or a community need. Sometimes they are held just to “make something happen” We’ve seen some of each recently.
Clarkfield’s Cardinal Day earlier this month and the recent well-attended youth baseball fundraiser at Richter Field in Granite Falls are great examples of making a community event happen. They provided some fun and raised some money for good community causes.
Last weekend’s River-front Blues Jam, sponsored by the American Legion in Sorlien Park in Granite, provided a nice diversion on a beautiful summer evening. We heard nothing but good remarks about the music and the event. We’re glad that these good folks take the initiative to make these events happen and provide some more fun in our communities. Thanks to everyone involved.
There’s been lots of talk lately about the struggle to find adequate daycare for kids and the declining number of daycare providers. This trend seems to be hitting our area like many others in Minnesota and is causing a lot of discussion and some very nervous hand-wringing about what to do. Having daycare available makes it possible for parents of young children to live and work here. It’s just that simple and it’s just that important.
Not having daycare available makes it possible, and sometimes likely, for those young families to leave and find another community that finds ways to solve this problem. This is not an easy problem to solve. It takes some real work to find answers for this dilemma.
We’ve heard it said that it may be easier to find a job where there is daycare than to find daycare where there is a job. If parents have to drive out of town for daycare, it gives an incentive for those parents to move where daycare is available. Those daycare kids could end up going to school where their other daycare friends are going to school. This can have a snowball effect which can be very hard to reverse.
Those young families that we try so hard to attract and hold on to have no choice but to look at any and all options when it comes to caring for their youngsters. As communities, we have no choice but to work on this very significant issue.
So, whose job is it to make this happen? The need for more day care providers or options has been rightfully recognized as a huge factor in the area’s economic health. We need full cooperation from every corner to make this happen. We can’t afford to not work together on this or we risk losing young families, something that we can’t afford to do.
We need in-home daycare providers and daycare centers to stay open and if that takes a small investment from one or more public entities, so be it. The price of all this is small compared to the price we pay as a community when we lose young families. We don’t want to be known as a community where it is impossible to find daycare.
There has been a lot said about the recent decision to close the daycare center at Minnesota West by the Prairie Five Community Action Council board of directors. It has been said that it was losing money and that couldn’t continue. Most of us don’t know everything that went into this decision but there is no doubt that it could have been handled better and with more consideration for those affected families. Again, the savings realized by that closing is very small when compared to the potential cost of losing young families from our area.
Unfortunately, this closing comes at a time when daycare needs have been recognized by the counties and the cities in our area as a huge factor in their local economies. Not only does the decline in daycare options affect young families but it can also affect anyone who employs those young adults in what is already a very tight market for qualified employees. That’s part of what makes the decision by Prairie Five so hard to understand. The timing of this is very difficult.
Thankfully, the Prairie Five board has agreed to make available their daycare license for the Minnesota West location for someone to work under until it expires at the end of the year. In theory, that may make available the opportunity to re-open the day care center and Minnesota West is willing to accommodate a new qualified daycare operator in their space.
So, the search is on to find another person or another entity to pick up what had been in place but has been taken away. While this closing has been a setback, it is something the community has no choice but to deal with and can make happen. The offer of the use of Prairie Five’s license is helpful but not as much as if the center had been kept open until a replacement could have been found.
Of course, it is frustrating to lose money. Covering the costs of any operation is always a worthy goal but keeping daycare opportunities open is much more valuable to the community. Many services that are needed in a community are not able to raise enough revenue to cover their expenses, yet they are deemed necessary and we are willing to pay for it. A daycare center may, or may not, be able to cover its expenses. Many daycare centers do but no matter if it shows a profit or not, it is an essential community necessity and has to be looked at in that light.
If or when the private sector can’t find a way to provide daycare for kids of working parents, we have to step up and find a way to make that happen. Our cities, counties and schools should each play a role in searching for and finding answers to the area’s daycare shortage. It’s that important.