There was a significant development with childcare in Granite Falls this week. At the Granite Falls City Council meeting Monday night, EDA Director Cathy Anderson proposed to set up a donation account through Granite Falls Bank that could provide additional funds for center-based care in the community.

The funds would be used to buy state authorized items such as books, cribs, toys, supplies, etc. She added that the funds could also help with existing building renovations and possibly help with any new construction.

When asked why this money would be used only for center- based practices and not for family child care as well, Anderson explained that while family- based care providers do struggle with regulations and costs, it runs on a entirely different system and set of rules, and that there are already multiple options for family-based care providers to get additional funds for support. Anderson gave the example of Swift County, which has a $40,000 fund for family care providers and Prairie Five that provides startup dollars for family providers.

Anderson also gave an update on the situation with Prairieland at the Minnesota West campus, and she informed the council that a company is interested in taking over the Prairieland license and space which would provide care for 38 children which consists of 4 infants, 11 toddlers, and 23 school age children.

Anderson also said there was another person interested in opening a center-based care program in Granite Falls, but that the building this person is looking to purchase will need renovations. Anderson went on to say that donation funds for center-based care could help this person get started and that it could also help the new com-panies with the Prairieland center. After some more discussion the council approved Anderson’s proposal for the donation fund.

Mayor Dave Smiglewski thanked County Commissioner John Berends for working to keep Prairieland open until the end of the year, which gave people time to figure out how to handle the situation, however he still expressed his displeasure with how the situation unfolded and the original decision to ultimately close Prairieland.

Smiglewski also explained that this is a statewide issue and that there are several other communities experiencing the same problems. Anderson also pointed out that almost 11,000 in home childcare businesses closed in the last year, which is mostly due to regulations and that it is a huge economic development issue.